Frankfurt Am Main, Mar 28 (AFP) Germany recorded a bounce in the birth rate in 2016, official statistics showed Wednesday, hitting a 43-year high helped along by large numbers of recently-arrived migrants.

Some 792,131 children were born in Europe’s most populous nation in 2016, federal statistics authority Destatis said, an increase of 7.0 percent over the previous year.

While German women had some 3.0 percent more babies than in 2015, at 607,500, non-German births increased 25 per cent, to 184,660.

“The number of women from countries with traditionally higher tendency to bear children increased” following a surge in migration in 2015-16, Destatis said.

Those years saw more than a million people arrive in Germany, many from conflict hotspots in the Middle East such as Syria and Iraq.

Among German mothers, there were more women aged between 30 and 37 in 2016, and women of that age group were more likely to have children under “favourable family policy and economic conditions,” Destatis said.

Long a birth-rate laggard among European countries, the 2016 surge brought the figure in Germany to 1.59 children per woman, around the continent-wide average and the highest since 1973.

France boasts the highest birth rate across Europe, at 1.92, while women in Spain and Italy have the fewest children at 1.34.

Higher birth rates in Germany could be good news for the country, as Destatis’ population projections see the ratio of working-age people to over-65s falling to just two to one by 2060, compared with around three to one in 2015.

The Bundesbank central bank last year warned that a wave of retirement among the post-war baby boomer generation could begin sapping economic growth from the middle of next decade, as there will be fewer young workers to replace them.

But higher birth rates among migrant women could amplify the political aftershocks of the asylum seeker influx, which propelled anti-immigration, anti-Islam party Alternative for Germany (AfD) into parliament for the first time at last September’s elections.(AFP) AMS

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.