On 1 January 2016, 21% of the German population was aged 65 and over, close to one out of four people! In France, the rate was 19% and 18% in the United Kingdom. The rate has been growing significantly since the early 90s, as a result of the Baby Boomers nearing the age of retirement.
The population has been ageing in all three countries but it is in Germany where the proportion of 65+ has increased the most over the past 25 years: +6 points between 1991 and 2016. This is due to the rise in the birth rate observed in the country between 1934 and 1942.
France and the United Kingdom have also known a growth in birth-rate, but it was not as significant as in Germany.
Share of people over 65 between 1991 and 2016
A short, late Baby Boom for Germany
The difference between the three countries lies in the difference in Baby Boom they have seen in the course of the 20th century. From 1934 to 1942, fertility is higher in Germany than in France or in the United Kingdom. Women have on average 2.6 children in 1939 and 1940. Over these two years, the number of births exceeded 1,400,000. After the Second World War, Germany saw the number of births plummet, a phenomenon which continued until the early 1950s. Meanwhile, France and the United Kingdom started their Baby Boom.
The German Baby Boom started towards 1952 and ended more quickly than in the other two countries: the number of births started decreasing by 1965. It was followed by a sharp drop in birth-rate (1965-1970) followed by stagnating low rates (1970-1980) which induces depleted age groups today among the 35-45.
A second drop in the Gerrnan birth rate, between 1990 and 1995, is linked to the inclusion of the former Eastern Germany: fertility slumped during that period. Finally, at the end of the 1990s, a new drop in the number of births was due to the lower number of women childbearing age, as well as a poor fertility rate. 20-35 year-old women then were born in the low birth-rate period of 1965 to 1980 and therefore there were not as many. The low Gerrnan birth rate since the early 2000s explains the « narrow waist » at the bottom of the Gerrnan age pyramid. It is very different from the French age pyramid.
Gerrnan age pyramid :
French age pyramid :
Source (French language) : https://www.insee.fr/fr/statistiques/2867604#graphique-figure5