Immigrants helped bump Germany’s fertility rate to its highest in 33 years

In May 2015, Germany’s five-year birthrate had plunged to the lowest in the world, edging Japan out of the bottom slot. But things may be looking up slightly on the baby front, according to the latest figures from the German federal statistics office.

Based on 2015 data, the average woman in Germany can expect to bear 1.5 children, which is the highest fertility rate since 1982 and up from 1.47 children per woman in 2014.

While the rate climbed only marginally for German women between 2014 and 2015—from 1.42 to 1.43—amongst immigrant women it jumped from 1.86 to 1.95. Almost 900,000 migrants came to Germany last year, the majority from Muslim countries. The regional winners when it came to having babies were in the eastern states, with Saxony seeing the biggest overall leap.

The rising rate is some cause for celebration, but even the influx of migrants—which has already slowed considerably since the Balkan route closed and Turkey agreed to stop refugees from coming to Germany—may not be enough to stop Germany’s dangerous population decline. Demographers say the rate needs to be at 2 births per woman for a population to maintain itself.

By 2060, Germany’s population is predicted to fall from around 82 million to between 68 million and 73 million people, a loss of 8 million to 13 million residents from today’s level.

Baby boomers will start to die, and the number of women of child-bearing age will decrease. And as Olga Poetzsch from the Federal Statistics Office noted in August, phases of high net immigration to Germany are usually followed by sharp drops.

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