European Birth Rates Are Down, Why?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. Principessa

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    No Babies?
    By RUSSELL SHORTO


    IT WAS A SPECTACULAR LATE-MAY AFTERNOON IN SOUTHERN ITALY,but the streets of Laviano — a gloriously situated hamlet ranged across a few folds in the mountains of the Campania region — were deserted. There were no day-trippers from Naples, no tourists to take in the views up the steep slopes, the olive trees on terraces, the ruins of the 11th-century fortress with wild poppies spotting its grassy flanks like flecks of blood. And there were no locals in sight either. The town has housing enough to support a population of 3,000, but fewer than 1,600 live here, and every year the number drops. Rocco Falivena, Laviano’s 56-year-old mayor, strolled down the middle of the street, outlining for me the town’s demographics and explaining why, although the place is more than a thousand years old, its buildings all look so new. In 1980 an earthquake struck, taking out nearly every structure and killing 300 people, including Falivena’s own parents. Then from tragedy arose the scent of possibility, of a future. Money came from the national government in Rome, and from former residents who had emigrated to the U.S. and elsewhere. The locals found jobs rebuilding their town. But when the construction ended, so did the work, and the exodus of residents continued as before.

    When Falivena took office in 2002 for his second stint as mayor, two numbers caught his attention. Four: that was how many babies were born in the town the year before. And five: the number of children enrolled in first grade at the school, never mind that the school served two additional communities as well. “I knew what was my first job, to try to save the school,” Falivena told me. “Because a village that does not have a school is a dead village.” He racked his brain and came up with a desperate idea: pay women to have babies. And not just a token amount, either; in 2003 Falivena let it be known he would pay 10,000 euros (about $15,000) for every woman — local or immigrant, married or single — who would give birth to and rear a child in the village. The “baby bonus,” as he calls it, is structured to root new citizens in the town: a mother gets 1,500 euros when her baby is born, then a 1,500-euro payment on each of the child’s first four birthdays and a final 2,500 euros the day the child enrolls in first grade. Falivena has a publicist’s instincts, and he said he hoped the plan would attract media attention. It did, generating news across Italy and as far away as Australia.

    There are some indications that Falivena’s baby bonus is succeeding — the first-grade class has 17 students this year — but that figure may be misleading. As it turns out, many of the new parents who have taken advantage of the bonus are locals who planned to have a child anyway. (Ida Robertiello, another of the baby-bonus mothers who sang Falivena’s praises for me, admitted that she was already pregnant with her son Matteo when Falivena announced his scheme.) The main effect of the bonus money may be on the timing of births. Last year Falivena was out of office, and the temporary replacement canceled the payments. “I know several women in Laviano who are pregnant now,” Daniela told me, and her husband added, with a rakish grin, that couples got busy because they knew Falivena was coming back as mayor, with a promise to restart the payments.
    But with close to 50 mothers now eligible, Falivena doesn’t know how long he can keep the baby bonus going. And Laviano is still losing population.
    *SNIP*
    Germany and Austria are in something of a category of their own. They share many of the same characteristics of other Western European countries with regard to forces affecting family life, but in addition childlessness is peculiarly high in these countries, and has been for some time. A 2002 study found that 27.8 percent of German women born in 1960 were childless, a rate far higher than in any other European country. (The rate in France, for example, was 10.7.) When European women age 18 to 34 were asked in another study to state their ideal number of children, 16.6 percent of those in Germany and 12.6 percent in Austria answered “none.” (In Italy, by comparison, this figure was 3.8 percent.) The main reason seems to be a basic change in attitudes on the part of some women as to their “natural” role. According to Nikolai Botev, population and development adviser at the United Nations Population Fund, many observers have been surprised to find that in recent years “childlessness emerges as an ideal lifestyle.” No one has yet figured out why some countries are more predisposed to childlessness than others.

    But the true fertility fault line in Europe — the fissures of which spread outward across the globe — runs between the north and the south. Setting aside the special case of countries in the east, the lowest rates in Europe — some of the lowest fertility rates in the world — are to be found in the seemingly family-friendly countries of Italy, Spain and Greece (all currently hover around 1.3). I asked Francesco Billari of Bocconi University in Milan, an author of the 2002 study that introduced the “lowest low” concept, to account for this. “If we look at very recent data for developed countries, we see that Italy has two records that are maybe world records,” he said. “One, young people in Italy stay with their parents longer than maybe anywhere else. No. 2 is the percentage of children born after the parents turn 40. These factors are related, because if you have a late start, you tend not to have a second child, and especially not a third.”
    *SNIP*
    FOR $100 OR SO YOU CAN buy online a Third Reich “Mother’s Cross” (officially, a Cross of Honor of the German Mother). The medals were struck, beginning in 1938, in bronze for women who had four children, in silver for mothers of six and in gold for women who gave birth to eight. They were given out annually on Hitler’s mother’s birthday to heroines of the cause of fertility, which the Führer referred to as “the battlefield of women.” Natalism — the state-sponsored policy to increase the birthrate — has a rather tainted pedigree. Nevertheless, in the age of “lowest-low fertility,” it has made a comeback. If your population is falling, one logical, or seemingly logical, way to build it up again is to encourage people to have more babies.
    *SNIP*
     
  2. transformer_99

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    That's actually a good thing, later on down the road, fewer anti-American threads will be perpetuated. I almost wish it were news even here in the USA, since school has been out, traffic has been more bearable each AM. :biggrin1::wink:
     
  3. whatireallywant

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    I've noticed that about the traffic too! The past week or two when driving to work it was a much easier drive (due to less traffic) than it was while school was in session (plus the fact that I drive through a school zone when going to work).

    Actually, if they don't want kids, they shouldn't have kids. I don't see what the problem is. If they DO want kids, then they'll have them and I have no problem with that, either, as long as it's what they want, and can afford and deal with.
     
  4. simcha

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    Birthrates have to stabilize sometime. If the world keeps this baby habit going we'll run out of space!
     
  5. JC8

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    Not Iowa, that's for sure. (Iowa)
    It'd be nice if birthrates were going down in the US, especially among the lower socio-economic stratas.

    That said, I'm willing to help with the declining euro population.
     
  6. Principessa

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    You want those of a lower socio-economic status to refrain from having children. Why? So that we end up with more wealthy jackasses like you and Donald Trump. No, thank you. :mad:
     
  7. 220483

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    in a far off place!
    OK, maybe the birthrates are going daown cause NOT every mens getting it up... :p
    [or were all turning GAY! :D]
    euromen RULE!
     
  8. D_Thoraxis_Biggulp

    D_Thoraxis_Biggulp New Member

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    Well those that live off of welfare and foodstamps are tapping tax money for more than what they're putting into it. Aside from that though, since it's typically not their fault, if they can't afford to provide for themselves without significant federal aid, they should think rationally about the burden they'd bear before deciding to have another child.
     
  9. B_jacknapier

    B_jacknapier New Member

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    Also the poor tend to be genetically inferior.
     
  10. cockoloco

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    GENETICALLY INFERIOR????? WTF!?

    Is there such a thing?! I mean, the last time I heard something like that it was when I was studying WWII and Hitler's speeches on the aryan race, for god's sake!

    I think that you mean that poorer people have more limited access to food of greater quality and to lead a 'healthier' lifestyle, so to speak.

    But to say that the genes degenerate because you're poor is absolute nonsense.
     
  11. B_jacknapier

    B_jacknapier New Member

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    That would be nonsense. It actually works the other way around.
     
  12. TurkeyWithaSunburn

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    Personal opinion or is here anything to back this up?

    Rich countries might actually be inferior in future generations due to environmental chemicals and damage caused to their populations epigenomes.
     
  13. cockoloco

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    What?!

    Have you ever read a book on nutrition? Or GENETICS, for that matter??
     
  14. cockoloco

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    sorry, that was meant for

     
  15. Drifterwood

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    Despite what people may wish to believe, conceiving after the age of thirty becomes exponentially more difficult, yet our culture now is one of professional expectation, student debt and increased cost of living. The equation does not add up to many people thinking about families until they are in a position to do so comfortably. The result is that many can't and many will have only a single child, throw in divorce and the fact that more sexual partners in the meantime means a reluctance on the part of many to sign up to monogamy and you have your answer NJ.

    Perhaps people don't appreciate the joy of fatherhood and just see the likeliehood of divorce leading to financial and emotional misery. Maybe it's better to not miss what you have never known.

    Oh, and we're all Eurofags anyway.
     
  16. B_johnschlong

    B_johnschlong New Member

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    European birth rates are actually up in many countries.

    After 6 years of steady decline, they are now back up in the Netherlands and Belgium, often seen as "indicator countries" for the EU as a whole. In Scandinavia they're up too. And a big upswing is expected in Eastern Europe, where a strong middle class is growing and where the post-Soviet blues is coming to an end.


    The decline in birthrates is a general phenomenon, though. It is typical for the most highly developed countries. Japan and South-Korea too have unsustainably low birth rates.
     
  17. sargon20

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    #17 sargon20, Jun 30, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2008
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