Friday, August 05, 2011

The Under-Population Crisis

Germany's number of children is dropping precipitously. Now people under 18 make up only 16.5 percent of the country’s population. As a percentage of the overall population, Germany has fewer children than any other country in Europe. Even more dramatic was the decline in eastern Germany where the number of children fell by just under 29 percent in the ten-year period to 2010. The lower number of young people in Europe could put its social systems under strain in the future because there will be fewer taxpayers to fund care for the elderly. The government is attempting to expand day care for children under three in an effort to take pressure off working parents. It has also introduced up 14 months in generous parental leave.

While the number of children has dropped by 2.1 million to 13.1 million over the last 18 years, more are now living in poverty. Roughly one in six kids live below the poverty line in Germany. In Germany, roughly 15 percent of children were living in poverty in 2008 even before the toughest part of the economic crisis; an increase of about one percent from two years earlier. About 7 percent of families with children were unable to partake of leisure activities, such as sports or music, due to financial problems. And more than 20 percent of families said that they had to forego vacations because of a shortage of money. Children raised by single parents are especially at risk. About 37 percent of them are considered in danger of falling below the poverty line. Berthold Huber, head of the influential IG Metall metalworkers union, blamed low wages for contributing to the number of children living in poverty. The Statistical Office found that children living in eastern Germany, where unemployment rates are high, were at a higher risk of poverty. His union is demanding fair wages for workers in temporary jobs, the establishment of minimum wages and better opportunities for women to switch from part-time to full-time jobs.

Roughly one in four Germans are pensioners today, and 10 percent are affected by poverty.

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