Germany's downward spiral in population is no longer reversible, the country's federal statistics office said Tuesday. The birthrate has dropped so low that immigration numbers cannot compensate.
"The fall in the population can no longer be stopped," vice-president Walter Rademacher with the Federal Statistics Office said, reported Agence France-Presse.
Germany has the lowest birthrate in Europe, with an average of 1.36 children per woman. Despite government incentives to encourage larger families, the population is dropping rapidly and that trend will continue, with an expected loss of as much as 12 million by 2050. That would mean about a 15% drop from the country's current population of 82.4 million, the German news source Deutsche Welle reported today.
The low birthrate will cause the German population to age dramatically over the next 40 years – last year there were 144,000 more deaths than births, and that number could increase to 600,000 by 2050, the FSO forecast stated.
With a 22% reduction in the workforce and increasing costs for senior assistance and medical care, the drop in population is expected to have a radical impact on the nation's economy, along with the welfare budget.
"I wouldn't like to use the word ‘bankrupt' because it's a major challenge for the social insurance systems, that's for certain," Radermacher said in an interview with DW-Radio. "But the first thing is to reform the social insurance systems… We can learn from other countries… In every case, you need someone who has to work and give you some earnings."
"The projections tell us the development of demographic trends will be even more dramatic in the eastern part of Germany," Radermacher said. "This is because of the fertility rates in the eastern part of Germany, because of internal migration with the borders of Germany and many other demographic factors."
While immigrants are increasingly relied upon to compensate for low birth rates in European countries, Radermacher said even factoring in a projected annual influx of 100,000-200,000 migrants won't prevent the population plunge.
"Even those people who are immigrants adopt after a couple years the lifestyle and the number of children per family. So the assumption that immigrants will stick to their habits is simply not true."
Germany has one of the largest populations of Muslim immigrants in Western Europe, with a Muslim community of over 3 million. That trend is expected to continue, leading some demographic trend-watchers to warn that the country is well on the way to becoming a Muslim state by 2050, Deutsche Welle reported.
The Brussels Journal reported last month that one third of all European children will be born to Muslim families by 2025. There are an estimated 50 million Muslims living in Europe today – that number is expected to double over the next twenty years.
The population losses faced by Germany reflect a trend occurring across Europe – the European Union's statistics agency Eurostat has predicted an overall drop in Europe's population of 7 million people by 2050.