January 21, 2006


Germans urged to be more fruitful (Karin Strohecker, January 21, 2006, REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

Ursula von der Leyen, a medical doctor and the mother of seven, wants Germans to have more babies.

Since taking the family affairs portfolio in Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet, she has been making proposals that have put the family high on Germany's political agenda.

Her calls for free child care and extensive tax breaks for families with small children have put the spotlight on Germany's low birthrate.

The Federal Statistics Office said yesterday that Germany's population fell for a third straight year in 2005, adding impetus to the new minister's determination to halt the decline by encouraging families to have more children.

The data show the number of Germans has fallen by 3.2 million in the past 33 years, a decline masked until recently by the flow of immigrants.

In a country where large families are now seen as an oddity -- partly in reaction to the Nazis' pressure to procreate -- Mrs. von der Leyen's costly pro-family plans have dominated the headlines this year.

By the time they figure this out it will be too late, but the problem with Nazism wasn't its emphasis on fertlity but its materialism. Offering folks money isn't going to get them to have enough kids.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 21, 2006 7:47 AM

The whole thing is their fault.

Their fanaticism with respect to the first two world wars have given both war and fertility bad names, to the extent that that extinction is chosen over the possibilty of having to fight.

Not having children is not exactly the same thing as killing yoursely to make more living space for others but it is very close.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 21, 2006 8:11 AM

Cradle to grave welfarism has worked it's magic. Bad incentives create sick societies. The state and the society it has constructed are addicted to social engineering and both need some 'cold turkey' therapy. The damage that has been done over a few generations will take a couple more to repair. The Church has a role to play in those traditionally Catholic countries and it should be encouraged to take up some of the slack.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford, Ct. at January 21, 2006 10:02 AM

A nearby Indian tribe uses casino profits to grant each member $2k per month. This includes children. Parents are entitled to $300 of each of their children's monthly $2k with the remaining $1,700 invested in a personal account until the child is 18. The tribes population is now growing so fast they don't think they can continue the program for much longer. There may be a level of bribery that will induce people to have more children, but perhaps the price is so high that it isn't sustainable.

Posted by: Patrick H at January 21, 2006 12:34 PM