Revitalizing German Demographics: Fertility Solutions

_ Daniel Hess, More Births, USA. This policy note based on the interview “Revitalizing Western Demographics: Fertility Solutions” with MIWI economist Yuri Kofner on 19th January 2024. 


Germany, like many Western nations, faces a critical demographic challenge. With a fertility rate of 1.36 births per woman in 2023, far below the replacement level of 2.1, the nation’s population is aging rapidly. This demographic decline threatens economic growth, social stability, and the sustainability of social support systems. However, the experience of countries like Israel and France shows that this trend can be reversed through comprehensive, long-term policy measures and cultural shifts. This policy note outlines necessary steps to revitalize fertility rates in Germany, drawing on successful examples and data-driven analysis.

Recognizing the Severity of the Crisis

Germany’s fertility rate has declined significantly over recent years, from 1.58 in 2021 to 1.36 in 2023 . This trend is alarming given the historical context: Germany’s share of the world population has decreased from 3.5% in 1900 to just 1% today . The demographic crisis is not merely a statistical concern; it poses existential risks to Germany’s socio-economic fabric. To address this, Germany must recognize the gravity of the situation and prioritize family formation as a core societal value, similar to the post-WWII transformation seen in Israel and the post-1940 shift in France .

Political Unity and Cooperation

Addressing the fertility crisis requires broad political consensus. It is essential to avoid politicizing family policy and instead foster cooperation across the political spectrum. This means encouraging conservative men and liberal women to collaborate on shared goals related to family formation and support . Countries with severe political divides, like South Korea, experience drastically low fertility rates (0.7 births per woman), underscoring the importance of political harmony in promoting fertility .

Effective Communication Strategies

Successful communication strategies should focus on the unmet family desires of individuals rather than abstract national goals. Surveys indicate that a significant gap exists between the number of children Germans wish to have and the number they actually have . Addressing this gap requires messaging that resonates on a personal level, emphasizing the fulfillment and joy of family life rather than using demographic slogans.

Promoting Religiosity and Community Engagement

Religiosity is a significant predictor of higher fertility rates. In the U.S., religious communities tend to have higher birth rates, a trend that can be attributed to stronger family values and community support . Germany, however, has one of the lowest rates of church attendance globally. Encouraging greater community and religious involvement can foster a more supportive environment for family formation.

Housing Policy Reform

Housing plays a critical role in family planning. Countries with a high prevalence of apartment living, such as many in East Asia, exhibit some of the lowest fertility rates worldwide . Germany’s housing policies should prioritize the development of single-family homes with adequate space for children. This shift would not only accommodate larger families but also create a long-term environment conducive to higher fertility rates.

Legalizing Homeschooling

Homeschooling is associated with higher fertility rates due to its flexibility and the strong family bonds it fosters . In the U.S., over 4 million children are homeschooled, and these families often have more children than those who utilize public education systems . Germany, where homeschooling is currently illegal, should reconsider its stance and provide legal and infrastructural support for homeschooling families.

Encouraging Marriage and Diverse Family Structures

Marriage is a significant factor in higher fertility rates. Married couples are more likely to have children and tend to have more children than unmarried couples . However, policies should also be inclusive of various family structures. In Germany, a substantial portion of children are born outside of marriage; without these births, the fertility rate would be even lower . Policies should incentivize marriage while accepting and supporting all family types.

Men’s Contribution to Household Chores

Increased male involvement in household chores correlates with higher fertility rates . Encouraging men to participate more in domestic responsibilities can alleviate the burden on women and create a more supportive environment for having more children. This cultural shift requires active promotion and support from both policymakers and societal leaders.

Education on Fertility Windows

Educating young people about the biological realities of fertility is crucial. Many women in Germany begin having children later in life, often leading to unfulfilled childbearing desires due to declining fertility with age . Integrating education about the fertility window into high school curriculums can help young people plan better and make informed decisions about family formation.

Faster Education Tracks

Current education tracks often delay family formation, particularly for women who pursue advanced degrees. Accelerating education pathways can enable earlier family planning . Additionally, creating family-friendly campuses and support systems for student-parents can facilitate earlier childbearing without sacrificing educational and career goals.

Better Home Financing for Youth

Germany has one of the lowest homeownership rates in Europe, partly due to stringent home financing standards . Improving access to affordable home loans for young families can provide the stability and confidence needed to start a family. The U.S. model of home financing, which facilitates higher homeownership rates, can serve as an example for Germany.

Environmental Outlook

Concerns about the environment often deter young people from having children. However, many environmental indicators are improving, and Germany’s leadership in environmentalism can be leveraged to promote a positive narrative around family formation . Emphasizing that sustainable living and family life are not mutually exclusive can encourage more young people to consider having children.

Modeling Large Families

Conservatives, who often have higher fertility rates, should model large families as a societal norm . Personal examples of large, happy families can influence societal attitudes toward having more children. However, this approach should be non-coercive, emphasizing personal choice and the joys of family life rather than imposing rigid norms.

Patience and Long-term Commitment

Building a pro-child culture is a generational project. Both Israel and France achieved significant demographic turnarounds through sustained, long-term commitment to pronatalist policies and cultural values . Germany must adopt a similar long-term perspective, recognizing that reversing demographic decline is a gradual process that requires persistent effort and dedication.


Revitalizing Germany’s fertility rates is a multifaceted challenge that demands comprehensive policy measures, cultural shifts, and broad political cooperation. By learning from successful examples and implementing data-driven strategies, Germany can create an environment that supports family formation and addresses the demographic crisis. This effort is not only crucial for the nation’s economic and social stability but also for the survival and flourishing of German society in the long term.


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