Everybody thought that 2020 would be the baby boom year. But that's unlikely. And the reason is not the coronavirus. Elke Loichinger, researcher at Germany's Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB), told DW that it would "be inadequate" to connect the estimated decrease in the number of births in 2020 to the pandemic. She said there was a different cause: "Already before the pandemic, the number of potential mothers, as well as the total fertility rate, has been decreasing."
Italy recorded the widest gap between births and deaths since the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918. The country recorded an estimated 400,000 births and more than 746,000 deaths. On top of that, number of marriages fell by more than half, which suggests that there will be fewer babies in Italy in 2021.
France has noted a decrease of 1.8% in number of births in comparison to 2019.
Germany recorded zero population growth for the first time since 2011. The number of births fell from 2019, and the number of deaths increased noticeably. The estimations are that there were 755,000-775,000 births and at least 980,000 deaths in 2020.
Loichinger said the increased number of deaths in 2020 was partly connected to pandemic, but added that the overall negative deficit between the number of births and deaths is not a surprise. "We have seen this since the 1970s in Germany. More people are dying than babies are being born."
Migration was also a reason for the changes to Germany's population in 2020. Among other things, restrictions on international travel hampered international migration, people moved less, and as a result fewer people migrated to Germany.
"The reason that the population in Germany has not by now declined noticeably is migration," Loichinger said, adding that with exception of few years, more people have immigrated than emigrated during the last three decades. It is expected that the population in Germany is going to decline from the mid-2020s, largely because of the effects of migration. "The future population of Germany is likely going to decline, but at what speed and in what timeframe is hard to say. It will highly depend on migration," Loichinger said.
The same goes for the whole European Union. According to Eurostat projections, the EU's population will peak at 449.3 million in 2026 then gradually decrease to 416.1 million by 2100.
What is certain is that "the German population is aging, with or without migration," Loichinger said.