BERLIN, March 16 (UPI) -- German women have the fewest children in the world, causing a rapid population decline in the 80-million-person nation, according to a new study.
A German woman has 1.36 children on average, the lowest number of any country in the world outside the Vatican, according to the Berlin Institute for Population and Development. In 2005, roughly 680,000 children were born in Germany -- the least since 1945.
Former communist East Germany is hit hardest: The area had already suffered from a low-child generation, when immediately after the Germany's reunification in 1990, child numbers there dropped to .77 children per woman.
The population drop there is aggravated by a demographic outflux, as young easterners often move to economically stable states, such as Bavaria or Baden-Wuerttemberg. Eastern Germany has the highest unemployment rate in the country.
By 2015, the study says, eastern Germany and the economically weak western regions, like Saarland and the Ruhr areas, will suffer from a "demographic shock," according to the study.
Family politicians argue Berlin should better efforts to help women combine career and family planning, as has been done elsewhere in Europe, such as France and Scandinavia.