More than 1 in 5 German women remaining childless despite heavy government subsidies

Statistics show more than one woman in five in Germany remains childless even though the government spends more than €50 billion ($67 billion) each year to boost birth rates.

Official figures published Thursday found 22 percent of women between the ages of 40 and 44 surveyed last year had never given birth. This was up from 20 percent in 2008.

Since first-time childbirth after that age is rare, the figure is taken as an indicator of lifetime childlessness.

The Federal Statistical Office says Germany had an overall fertility rate last year of 1.38 children per woman. This is far below the rate of 2.1 needed to keep a population steady.

Even by generous estimates Germany's population of 80 million is predicted to drop by 10 percent by 2050.