Germans have stopped having children—and the number of couples opting for a childless life is rising every year to the consternation of politicians and employers in the eurozone’s biggest economy.
While figures released by the French government this month showed France’s population could balloon from its current level of 60.2 million to 75 million by 2050, the United Nations predicts that Germany’s is set to plummet from 82 million to 70.8 million in the same period.
A study by Germany’s federal institute for demographic research showed that 26 percent of men and 15 percent of women aged between 20 and 39 do not want to start a family, a sharp rise since 1992 when the figures were 12 percent of men and 10 percent of women.
“There is an increasing belief that not having children is the ideal way of life,” the authors of the study concluded.
German women, for example, want an average of 1.7 children compared with at least two in most other European countries. Forty percent of university-educated women of child-bearing age are without a child.
“Abandoning the idea of children is abandoning the idea of life,” Otto Schily, the radical lawyer turned German interior minister, said recently. He should know: he has two daughters.
Many recent studies have pinpointed psychological factors as putting the brake on the desire to start a family.
“In Germany, having children isn’t sexy,” said Marie-Luise Lewicki, the editor of Eltern (Parents) magazine.