The relatively low birth rates in Germany are not an expression of lifestyle choices or culture, but a consequence of insufficient public childcare, says a recent study by Sebastian Klüsner , Michaela Kreyenfeld, (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock), and Karel Neels (University of Antwerp, Belgium). According to the authors, their analysis is the first that can clearly differentiate between the impact of culture and policies on birth rates. This was possible by exploring the fertility behaviour of the German-speaking minority in eastern Belgium.
Though rooted in German culture, the inhabitants of the region Eupen-Malmedy actually have access to the well-developed Belgian childcare system. Several generations of women in this region have shown birth rates that are significantly higher than the German average. According to the researchers, this not only shows that good public childcare correlates with higher birth rates, but also that combining work and family is a crucial factor for more children in German speaking countries.
Read the press release (in German)
Read the full study “Family Policies and the Western European Fertility Divide: Insights from a Natural Experiment in Belgium”