NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 24, 2004

Germany's declining birthrate is creating a country with too few people and too many hospitals, says the New York Times. Furthermore, the country's dwindling population will create a burden for younger workers having to support the state's generous social welfare system.

According to the Times:

  • The German birth rate has dropped from 2.5 children per couple in the 1970s to currently 1.3 children per couple; even Turkish immigrants, who typically have larger families, have adapted to the country's lower birthrate.
  • By 2050, the number of schoolchildren will fall by 12 percent, and 1 out of 3 Germans will be over age 65.
  • Hospitals are competing fiercely for maternity patients; indeed, one hospital reports about 1,800 deliveries per year (less than 5 per day), compared with 4,617 births in 2002 at New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital.
  • In 10 years, the number of hospitals in Germany will decline from 2,200 to 600.
  • Even with current immigration levels, Germany's population will still shrink by about 700,000 people by the year 2020.

Some Germans attribute the declining birth rate to German attitudes toward children -- that they are not particularly welcomed or prized. Others stress financial constraints that prevent families from having a larger desired number of children. Still, others call it selfishness, that is -- Germans want children but without having to sacrifice their Mercedes.

Whatever the reason, the Deutsch Bank has warned that the shrinking pool of young people will mean the government will have to cut public services and social programs due to declining tax revenues.

Source: Mark Landler, "Empty Maternity Wards Imperil a Dwindling Germany," New York Times, November 18, 2004.

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