Germany’s birth rate has fallen to the lowest in the world, according to a study by an auditing firm.
The country has dropped below Japan to take the lowest birth rate globally, according to the study by the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI), prompting fears that labour market shortages could damage the economy.
The authors of the study also said that women’s participation in the workforce would be key to the country’s economic future, and warned that a shrinking working-age population could have negative effects.
Germany saw an average of 8.2 children born per 1,000 inhabitants over the past five years.
The falling birth rate means the percentage of people of working age in the country - between 20 and 65 - would drop from 61 per cent to 54 per cent by 2030.
Japan saw 8.4 children born per 1,000 inhabitants over the same time period, whereas Portugal and Italy saw 9.0 and 9.3, respectively. France and the UK both had an average of 12.7 births per 1,000 inhabitants.
Meanwhile, the highest birth rates were in Africa, with Niger at the top of the list with 50 births per 1,000 people.
Arno Probst, a member of the corporate governance working group of the IDW (German Institute of Public Auditors), said employers in Germany faced higher wage costs as a result.
"Without strong labour markets, Germany cannot maintain its economic edge in the long run," he added.
Mr Probst said the country needed young immigrant workers to fill the significant skills gap and that more women were needed in the workforce to aid the economy.
Net migration to Germany is at a 20 year all time ‘boom’ as described by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
In 2012, 400,000 so-called "permanent migrants" arrived in the country.