German population goes downGermany, with one of the lowest birth rates in Europe, suffered another drop in population last year as deaths outpaced births and the number of immigrants declined again, the Federal Statistics Office said today.
The population fell by about 150,000 in 2006 to 82.31 million after declining by 144,000 in 2005 to 82.44 million, the office said. The drop in 2006 marked the third time in the last quarter century that Germany's net population shrunk.
The office estimated the number of births in 2006 had fallen to between 670,000 and 680,000, a record low since measuring began in 1946. That was also down from 686,000 in 2005. The number of deaths was steady at between 820,000 and 830,000.
Fewer immigrants came to Germany in 2006 and more Germans left their country. The net gain in immigration versus emigration was down to about 20,000 to 30,000 in 2006 from a net gain of 79,000 in 2005.
Germany's population has been shrinking for more than 30 years and there are 3.3 million fewer Germans than in 1972.
Economists have warned that unless Germany's demographic trend is reversed, Europe's largest economy will go into terminal decline, with pensions and healthcare costs soaring as the average age gets higher and higher.
The government introduced subsidies to working mothers in January with the hope it would raise the birth rate.