I found this article interesting. It addressed the shrinking birthrates in Europe and parts of Asia. The decline is bad enough to be below replacement figure for a good chunk of them. What interested me is how the article undermined many of the clichés offered, for example, about how feminism is destroying the family, how European socialism is either the worst.idea.ever. or a good idea that is a no-brainer for non-fascists.
- The figure of 2.1 is widely considered to be the “replacement rate” — the average number of births per woman that will maintain a country’s current population level. At various times in modern history — during war or famine — birthrates have fallen below the replacement rate, to “low” or “very low” levels. . . . For the first time on record, birthrates in southern and Eastern Europe had dropped below 1.3. At that rate, a country’s population would be cut in half in 45 years, creating a falling-off-a-cliff effect from which it would be nearly impossible to recover.
- Around the time that President Kennedy went to Germany and gave his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, Europe represented 12.5 percent of the world’s population. Today it is 7.2 percent, and if current trends continue, by 2050 only 5 percent of the world will be European.
- In the 1960s, the overall fertility rate in Italy was around two children per couple. Now it is about 1.3, and for some towns in Italy it is less than 1. This is considered pathological.”
- 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. 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.”
- 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)
- This spring, the Japanese government released figures showing that the country’s under-14 population was the lowest since 1908. The head of Thailand’s department of health announced in May that his country’s birthrate now stands at 1.5, far below the replacement level. “The world record for lowest-low fertility right now is South Korea, at 1.1”
- According to Hans-Peter Kohler of the University of Pennsylvania, analysis of recent studies showed that “high fertility was associated with high female labor-force participation . . . and the lowest fertility levels in Europe since the mid-1990s are often found in countries with the lowest female labor-force participation.” In other words, working mothers are having more babies than stay-at-home moms.
- If this reading of southern European countries is correct — that their superficial commitment to modernity, to a 21st-century lifestyle, is fatally at odds with a view of the family structure that is rooted in the 19th century
- All of these are societies still rooted in the tradition where the husband earned all the money. Things have changed, not only in Italy and Spain but also in Japan and Korea, but those societies have not yet adjusted. The relationships within households have not adjusted yet.”