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People of committed faith increase fertility rates, German study finds

Youth attending a worship place regularly are expected to have an average fertility rate of 2.1, much higher than the average for any European country.

AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus 26 DE ENERO DE 2024 14:41 h
Photo: [link]Adam Winger[/link], Unsplash CC0.

4.09 million children were born in the European Union in 2021, the last year for which there are official statistics.

This is one million fewer children than in 1990, and two million fewer than in 1975, according to Eurostat.


A severe crisis in Europe

If one looks at the fertility rate (the number of children born per woman), the European average is of 1.5, with countries such as France and Czechia in the best position (1.8) and Malta and Spain (1.1 and 1.2) at the lower end.

The figures draw a picture of an ageing Europe that heavily depends on immigration from other parts of the world. Not a single country in Europe (or outside the EU, such as Switzerland or the Balkan countries) reaches the number of 2.1 children per woman needed to maintain a constant population size.

Of course, this is not a new reality and there have been all kind of explanations: fewer stable unions in a procreation age, a lack of economic policies supporting families, the evolution of the marketplace with a stronger presence of women, cultural changes that put personal autonomy over other traditional values...


“Close connection between belief and desire to have children”

But what if a commitment with faith would be directly connected to having more children? It is known that migrants from a Muslim background across Europe tend to have larger families than their neighbours. But does this apply to other faith groups such as Christians and Jews as well?

Research of the official German Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) made public just before Christmas concluded that “there is a close connection between religious belief and the desire to have children”.

The study, which looked at data from 12,000 Germans, found that “religious girls and boys aged 15 say they want to have an average of 2.1 children. Among their peers with no religious affiliation, the number of desired children is significantly lower at 1.7”.


Worldview of children and teenagers

These views on parenthood are formed in the childhood and adolescence and are considered “an important indicator of fertility behaviour in later adult life in the scientific literature”.

“Religious people already have higher fertility intentions in adolescence than less religious people”, explained Dr Jasmin Passet-Wittig, one of the authors. “From the age of around 30, the desired number of children decreases slightly for everyone, but for religious people this decrease starts from a higher level”.

What makes the difference is not the religion one adheres to, but practicing that faith in real life. “People were categorised as religious if they went to church, mosque or synagogue regularly, i.e. at least once a month, or attended religious events - regardless of whether and to which religion they belonged”.

The vast majority of the people surveyed were Protestant and Roman Catholic Christians. “Our study shows that there are already clear differences in children’s wishes when it comes to attending religious events once a month”, explained Dr Christoph Bein, another author of the study.

Despite Germany being a highly secularised society, the “clear indications” that connect personal faith and fertility intentions must not be ignored, the researchers said. “In most religions, procreation is strongly emphasised as a central part of life. Religious people tend to have a higher propensity to marry, which in turn is an important factor in their higher fertility”, the authors concluded.


[title]One more year[/title]


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Learn all about our #OneMoreYearEF campaign here (English).





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