COLOGNE, May 22, 2013 ( – The Catholic Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, says that immigration is not the answer to Germany's demographic crisis; the answer, he said, lies in increasing the birth rate.

“Where are women really publicly encouraged to stay at home and bring three or four children into the world? This is what we should do, and not – as Mrs Merkel does now – simply present immigration as the solution to our demographic problem,” Cardinal Meisner said in an interview with the Stuttgarter Zeitung. 

Germany is in ever increasing need of skilled workers as older workers retire with fewer and fewer young Germans to take their place.


Angela Merkel’s government is looking to bring in young workers from EU countries such as Spain and Portugal that are in financial crisis and have very high youth unemployment rates. 

To that end, Germany agreed to provide apprenticeships or jobs for 5,000 unemployed young people from Spain each year in a deal reached between the two countries’ labour ministries this week. 

However, Cardinal Meisner criticized the deal as a policy that would deprive Spain of its “youth and future.” 

“We should train these unemployed people, give them a fresh perspective, but then allow them to go back to their homeland, where they are needed,” he said. 

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Although the German government has tried various schemes to increase the country's collapsing birth rate, such as giving new parents child benefit payments of up to 1800 euros per month, Germany still has the lowest birth rate in Europe at 1.36 children per woman. A birth rate of 2.1 children per woman is needed to maintain a stable population. 

Cardinal Meisner compared the government’s family policies to Communist East Germany, where, he said, women who wanted to stay at home to look after their children were considered “demented.” 

Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute noted that the developed countries of the world “are suffering a severe birth dearth and, as a result, an enormous shift in global power will soon be upon us. 

“Europe will recede demographically, while America will be hard-pressed to hold its own against younger and more populous countries. More and more countries are undertaking programs to raise their birth rates, although none of these policies has as yet made much of a difference.”

Mosher pointed out that the Spanish parliament reacted to the demographic problem by promoting births and instituting pro-natal policies. 

“But the relatively small bonuses and benefits offered seem insufficient to resurrect population growth,” Mosher said. “The problem is exacerbated by that fact that many Spaniards, unable to find employment at home, seek it abroad in countries such as Germany. When the young flee, this hardly helps Spain’s declining birth rate and decreasing population.” 


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