Southern Europeans are moving to Germany in large numbers. Because of the German economic boom but also because of Germany's low birth rate. John Laurenson explores the flaw at the heart of the German economic miracle.
With its labour force likely to decline by 6.5 million people by 2025, huge numbers of people are moving to Germany. Net migration is running at 400,000 people a year, many of them are fleeing the struggling, unemployment-ridden economies of Italy, Spain and Greece.
But there's a deeper reason behind this extraordinary, sudden demographic shift at the heart of Europe than Germany's new 'economic miracle': the Fatherland can make the euros but it can't make the babies.
Demographic crisis has been creeping up on Germany for years. It has been called "the most important political and social challenge in the coming decades for Germany".
At 1.39 children per woman, Germany has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. Much worse, it has been like this since the early 70s.
Now, with its industry in acute need of new manpower, the population has started to shrink.
John explores the reasons Germans have been failing to reproduce and looks at the government's efforts that have so far failed to reverse the trend.
Business leaders and some politicians say the current high-level of immigration into their country is a God-send for Germany but are Germans really ready to accept the changes that huge scale immigration might bring?
Presenter/ John Laurenson
Producer/ Richard McIlroy for the BBC.
With its labour force likely to decline by 6.5 million people by 2025, huge numbers of southern Europeans are moving to Germany. About half a million people have settled in Europe's powerhouse economy, fleeing the struggling, unemployment-ridden economies of Italy, Spain and Greece.
But there's a deeper reason behind this extraordinary, sudden demographic shift at the heart of Europe than Germany's new 'economic miracle': The Fatherland can make the euros, but it can't make the babies. Germany's demographic crisis has been creeping up on the country for years and it has been called "the most important political and social challenge in the coming decades for Germany"
John Laurenson travels to Germany to gauge how this demographic crisis stems partly because of falling unemployment. While joblessness has soared in much of Europe, it is now at its lowest rate since 1990 in Germany.
There are not enough people to drive the trains, dispose of the carefully sorted rubbish or mend its broken 'toiletten'.
At 1.39 children per woman, this shortage is new, but the effects are now becoming a big problem. Of EU countries only Ireland comes close to having the number of children 2.1 needed to maintain its population
The German government has come up with incentives schemes to persuade its young adults to add to reverse this decline in numbers, John explores though how this just isn't working and the government having to look outside its borders
According to economists though this is short term fix for a problem which could halt Germans economic progress for decades to come
"In the short term, this can help. But in all likelihood, many of these people from southern Europe will return to their country of origin as soon as the economic situation there improves. What Germany really needs to do is attract workers from outside of Europe. But government policies are not geared up for that."
John find out how childless German women feel about contributing to this shortfall and what are the reasons for them choosing a life without children as well as meeting one family with four young children, a rarity in modern day Germany
Are Germans really ready to accept the changes that huge scale immigration might bring? Germany was long attached to an ethnic definition of nationality. Unlike, say, the French way of defining who was and wasn't part of their nation, the Germans defined German-ness by blood not birth. Is this still true today?