Carol Matlack, Bloomberg, December 15, 2016
As Germany wrestles with the political and economic fallout of surging immigration, one thing has become clear. The foreigners are giving the country something it needs: more babies.
In 2015, Germany’s birthrate rose to 1.5 per woman, the highest in 33 years. The state statistics service attributed the increase mainly to foreign-born mothers, who accounted for a record-high 1 in 5 births. German-born moms have an average of 1.4 kids; for foreign-born women, the figure is higher than 1.9. “It’s much easier to be a family and have kids here,” says Basima Shhadat, who gave birth to a daughter in Munich in 2015, a year after arriving from Syria with her husband and five sons. Four other sons died in Syria, she says. “My kids can live here. There are no bombs.”
The birth surge is encouraging news for Germany, which has the world’s lowest birthrate. As in many developed countries, “there’s a dearth of millennials” having babies to replenish the ranks of workers who help finance pensions and health care for retirees, says Stijn Hoorens, a Rand Corp. demographer in Brussels.
Germany has Europe’s largest immigrant population, including 3 million with Turkish roots.
Births had started to inch upward even before the arrival of almost 2 million refugees over the past three years. Thomas Bernar, head of the maternity clinic at the Helios Kliniken hospital in Pforzheim, a heavily immigrant city, says his clinic had logged almost 1,600 deliveries in 2016 as of Dec. 9, more than the total 1,479 for all of 2015.
The boom may not last: Second-generation immigrants tend to adopt the childbearing habits of their host countries. The birthrate among Mexican-born women in the U.S., for example, has fallen more than 26 percent over the past decade, according to Pew.