Tyskerne vil ikke ha barn. Nye tall viser at fødsler per kvinne har sunket fra 1.5 til 1.38 fødsler per kvinne. Tyskland har ikke sett så lave tall siden slutten av annen verdenskrig. Befolkningen kan falle med 17 prosent i løpet av noen år.

Det mest bekymringsfulle er den demografiske ubalansen: hvem skal forsørge en økende andel syke og gamle? Hvem skal holde økonomien i gang? Den demografiske nedgangen truer Tysklands økonomiske stormaktsrolle.

Germany is shrinking – and fast. New figures released on May 17 show the birth rate in Europe’s biggest economy has plummeted to a historic low, dropping to a level not seen since 1946. As demographers warn of the consequences of not making enough babies to replace and support an ageing population, the latest figures have triggered a bout of national soul-searching and cast a harsh light on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s family policies.
According to a preliminary analysis by the Federal Statistics Office, 651,000 children were born in Germany in 2009 – 30,000 fewer than in 2008, a dip of 3.6%. In 1990, German mothers were having on average 1.5 children each; today that average is down to 1.38 children per mother. With a shortfall of 190,000 between the number of people who died and the number of children who were born, Germany’s birth rate is well below the level required to keep the population stable. (See why the recssion is causing women to have fewer kids.)

And that help has to come soon; the predictions of Germany’s demographic future make for uncomfortable reading. The Federal Statistics Office says Germany’s population of 82 million could drop by up to 17 million over the next 50 years. Demographers fear a shrinking workforce will stymie growth and struggle to foot the bill for a rapidly ageing population. «Germany’s working age population is likely to decrease by 30% over the next few decades,» says KrÖhnert of the Berlin Institute for Population Development. «Rural areas will see a massive population decline and some villages will simply disappear – Germany will become a weak economic power in the future.»

Tyskland er bare det mest eklatante eksemplet på en trend som gjelder hele Europa. Den økonomiske krisen kan bare aksellerere utviklingen.

Baby Gap: Germany’s Birth Rate Hits Historic Low