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Germany's fertility rate hits 43-year high

Alexander Pearson
March 28, 2018

But women in Germany are still not having enough babies to ensure the total population stays constant. The new figures do however put Germany near the European average.

Five Leipzig babies next to each other
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/W. Grubitzsch

Germany in 2016 recorded its highest fertility rate since 1973, the Federal Statistics Office reported on Wednesday.

The latest figures are part of an upward trend for Germany, Europe's biggest country by population, which has suffered from low birth rates since the 1970s.

Read more: Let's talk about overpopulation...

What the numbers tell us:

  • The fertility rate — the average number of births per woman — was 1.59 in 2016, a considerable increase from 1.5 in 2015.
  • The 2016 rate was the highest recorded since 1973. Experts consider 2.1 to be the level at which the population in a developed country replaces itself with each generation.
  • The fertility rate for women with German citizenship increased from 1.43 in 2015 to 1.46 in 2016. The rate for foreign women increased from 1.95 in 2015 to 2.28 in 2016.
  • Slightly more than 790,000 babies were born. That was around 54,500 more — a 7 percent increase — compared to 2015.
  • German women gave birth to just over 605,000 babies. Foreign women gave birth to just below 185,000 babies.
  • 2016 was the fifth year in a row in which the total number of newborns increased.
  • The last time women in Germany had as many children was 1996.

Read more: Record rise in babies with foreign mothers in Germany

Infographic on fertility rate in the EU
Germany is near the average compared to other EU countries

Why are there more babies? The Federal Statistics Office said women between the ages of 30 and 37 were more frequently having children. Many of them did not have children when they were younger, which was in stark contrast to older women, who more frequently had children before they turned 30.

Middle of the EU pack: Germany's 1.59 fertility rate put it near the 1.6 average for all 28 European Union countries in 2016. France had the highest rate with 1.92, while Spain and Italy had the lowest with 1.34.

Read more: Polish government urges citizens to multiply like rabbits

Turkish mothers top: Women with Turkish citizenship gave birth to the most babies (21,000) among non-Germans. They were followed by Syrian women (18,000 births) and Polish women (12,000 births).

Why are the 2016 figures only now available? The Statistics Office said a new method for processing the data had led to "significant delays" in the publication of the data.

Giving birth in Germany

Read more: Germany allows 'third sex' option at birth