October 11, 2007


European Governments Battle the Continent's Birth Dearth (Handan T. Satiroglu, 11 Oct 2007, World Politics Review)

For almost a generation, wealthy and well-fed Europe has been bringing forth too few children to replenish its graying population for the coming decades. Save Ireland, and possibly amorous France, birthrates have dipped far below the replacement level of 2.1, giving the old continent an overall average of 1.5 births per woman -- rates that make North American women look like fertility goddesses at 2.08 apiece.

Even in Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Spain, and Greece, which at one time exemplified the Biblical tradition of fruitful families, and which stood for the defense of rigid religious values, childlessness is fast gaining acceptance. So much so, that Spain, for instance, is expected to shed 10 million of its inhabitants by 2050 -- despite the current influx of immigrants who tend to have more babies than the natives.

Demographers starkly warn that a steady decline in numbers lies ahead for many European countries. In Italy, the working-age population is poised to shrivel by 35 percent by 2050. The United Nations estimates Germany's population will dwindle to 75 million from a robust 81 million in the next two decades, while Hungary and Poland will trim their populations by 25 percent and 15 percent respectively.

As nations have started to feel the demographic slip, European politicians have begun to scratch their collective heads over how best to tackle the issue. Fearful of a future in which economies collapse, social ties weaken, and the elderly can no longer be sustained by paltry working-age populations, governments are doing whatever they can to encourage couples to have more children. Almost all nations -- in one way or another -- are beefing up "baby bonuses," and there is even talk of taxing those who have chosen to abstain from the biological imperative of procreation.

Yet they still believe in that Biology?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 11, 2007 7:36 AM

and there is even talk of taxing those who have chosen to abstain from the biological imperative of procreation.

C'mon, you had to know that somehow politicians would find some way to tax sex.

Maybe they can treat condoms and other contraceptives like they've done with cigarettes, and impose a "sin tax" to both discourage the use and supposedly pay for the costs to society imposed by the users of those products. We'll know they are serious when they extend the tax talk to include abortions.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 11, 2007 12:18 PM

Maybe they should think about providing a bonus or something for the birth of the second child only (meaning no bonus for the 1st or 3rd, 4th, etc.)as the incentive, rather than tax non productive couples.

Posted by: KRS at October 11, 2007 3:38 PM