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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 July, 2003, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Germany's stylish baby boom

By Ray Furlong
BBC correspondent in Berlin

Baby plays in a sandbox in nursery in Prenzlauer Berg
"Bourgeois bohemians" buck the national trend of fewer babies
Germany's fashionable middle class is enjoying an unprecedented "niche" baby boom, but the whole country's birth rate needs to rise to counter the country's aging population.

It is Saturday morning, and a rare chance for Marian and Daniel to relax with their daughter Leah.

The couple work 50 to 70 hour weeks running their own advertising agency. Their careers remain a key life priority. But so are children and they hope to have more.

"I was pregnant and I was really half stepping into this kind of cliche of commercial advertising people and so she really changed my mind at this point," Marian Averbeck says.

"I realised there's something different and I have to change something."

Germany is experiencing a niche baby boom. For so-called bourgeois bohemians - young and successful couples - babies are the latest fashion, bucking the national trend of having fewer children.

Couple push 1970s retro-style pram down street
An essential accessory for the stylish parent
Prenzlauer Berg is currently perhaps the hippest district in Berlin's fickle and trend-driven housing market.

But it has now got another mark of distinction - the highest birth rate in Germany. It also boasts some of the country's most stylish babies.

This spring, 1970s retro prams are the only thing to be seen in. And a shop run by an artists' collective is doing a roaring trade in designer baby wear - some with anti-war slogans, others aspiring to haute couture.

"Everybody buys it as a present because they're cool," photographic artist Daniel Josefsohn says. "I would like to have a baby with these."

Need for facilities

But the supply of kids is now exceeding that of nursery places.

Germany now needs a nationwide baby boom

There are many private nurseries that parents have set up themselves in Prenzlauer Berg, and the collective patter of tiny feet has now reached politicians' ears.

"I think there is a direct link between childcare facilities on the one side and the low birth rate in German on the other side," Kirsten Griese, a member of the German parliament's family affairs committee says.

"When you look at the Scandinavian countries you have a high birth rate, higher rate of employment of women and much better childcare facilities."

By the time these toddlers grow up, Germany could have the oldest population in the world. The federal statistics office says that around 60% of people will soon be nearing retirement age or older.

Germany needs a baby boom, not just among a small group of high-flyers but in the rest of its society.




SEE ALSO:
France's new baby boom
16 Jan 03  |  Europe
New York's 11 September baby boom
14 Jun 02  |  Americas


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