German policies bear fruit as births rise again
Germany, like many European countries, is grappling with an aging population.Berlin -- Germany's family minister claimed the credit on Monday as figures showed a rise in births in Europe's most populous country for the second straight year.
"The economic crisis is unsettling many people," Ursula von der Leyen said, but the latest rise "shows that now in particular measures to support families and the promotion of family-friendly policies are having a stabilizing effect."
In 2008, around 690,000 babies were born in Germany, 5,000 more than in 2007, when there was a rise of 12,000, the government said. The increase was strongest among mothers aged between 30 and 40.
The rise in 2007 broke a 10-year spell of falling birth rates that caused concern in political circles.
Von der Leyen, who herself has seven children, has introduced a raft of measures aimed at lifting Germany's traditionally low birth rate, such as increased benefits for stay-at-home parents and more kindergartens.
She told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that she also wanted to provide more financial assistance to couples wanting fertility treatment. At present, only half of the costs are covered and treatment is only open to married couples.
Germany, like many European countries, is grappling with an aging population. A falling number of working people are supporting a rising number of retirees with their taxes.