Germany fact of the day

by on July 14, 2007 at 1:10 pm in Data Source | Permalink

Statisticians have been scratching their heads lately over figures
that suggest Germans, among the most barren of western Europeans, are
rediscovering the joys of procreation.  In the first quarter of 2007, nearly 15 per cent more babies were born in Düsseldorf than in the same period last year.

Here is more.

happyjuggler0 July 14, 2007 at 1:27 pm

Statisticians are scratching their heads? I guess someone forgot to tell tham that incentives matter.

Then there is Elterngeld, a new parental allowance. Introduced nationwide in January and modelled on Scandinavian policies, the benefit entitles every new parent to a state allowance worth 67 per cent of their salary if they stop working for a year after having a child.

There was and is no way to be sure how much of an effect such a policy would have, but it seems clear that it will definitely have an impact on the margin. Just how big is that margin?

mik July 14, 2007 at 1:54 pm

Could be a fluke. Or another Muslim village moved to Dusseldorf and
started breeding.

LemmusLemmus July 14, 2007 at 3:36 pm

I should add to happyjugglers comment that Elterngeld is capped at 1800 Euros/month.

I’m not sure the rise is as strong in Germany overall as it is in Düsseldorf, but I believe the numbers are definitely up. A third explanation, in addition to the two above: Unemployment is down (as mentioned by the article). I think those three factors are pretty much everything you need.

happyjuggler0 July 14, 2007 at 5:40 pm

A ha! A confluence of factors. Elterngeld, the World Cup, maybe some more baby happy Muslims, lower unemployment, and a lack of faith in the social welfare net.

My unoriginal thesis is that one of the main factors that have driven down birth rates in industrial countries, in addition to education and more women in the workforce, and in addition to not needing children to help on the farm and to care for you when you are old and infirm, is nationalized care of the elderly.

Therefore if they now lack faith in their coercive Ponzi scheme, and indeed they should lack faith in it. If people now feel they may need family as a safety net again they may choose to have kids, or more kids, just to be on the safe side.

Peter July 15, 2007 at 1:12 pm

It could just be a cyclical thing.

Lord July 15, 2007 at 5:10 pm

The end of the cold war and it’s aftermath?

JSK July 15, 2007 at 5:16 pm

Read ‘PI’ where it says ‘PC’

Paul N July 15, 2007 at 11:38 pm

Talking to Germans, they all can tell that something is shifting. I’m quite sure this is not a brief cyclical thing.

blablablabla July 16, 2007 at 10:11 am

@doctorpat: Don’t worry, the self-employed get the subsidy, too.

Disinterested Observer July 17, 2007 at 12:28 pm

Actually people in Germany are effectively required to care for their parents in old age, as any social assistance claimed is required to be repaid by family members.

There has been a recent upturn in birth rates in quite a number of countries, including France, the UK, Sweden and Australia.

I think it is probably best to wait a while and see whether the trend continues.

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