Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Germans Encourage Women To Have Babies

This is actually old news but as far as I can tell, no one has covered the story.

It seems as if Germans are starting to feel the effects of contraception and they don't like it.

Faced with a population which has become more and more hostile to birth, the German government is realizing the only result can be the opposite: death. Death as a nation that is. Forget trying to have a growing population, they are simply trying to replace a population which requires each woman to have 2.2 children. Currently the actual birthrate is about 1.7.

In an article written almost two years ago, the blogsite "Chastity Revisited" cited this problem and pointed to some of its causes:
A study by Germany's federal institute for demographic research showed that 26 percent of men and 15 percent of women aged between 20 and 39 do not want to start a family, a sharp rise since 1992 when the figures were 12 percent of men and 10 percent of women."
There is an increasing belief that not having children is the ideal way of life," the authors of the study concluded.
So, "why," I guess is the question. Why don't people want to have children? Isn't it a natural desire? It seems the Germans are asking the same question as they try to get to the root of the problem. The story continues with quotes like these:
"Places in creches are hard to get, and expensive," said Andrea, 35, in the Brigitte chat room. "I just can't imagine myself having a child, staying at home and becoming financially dependent on my partner or the State."
"In Germany, having children isn't sexy," said Marie-Luise Lewicki, the editor of Eltern (Parents) magazine.
"We don't just need creches and day-long schooling, we need a change in society," she said.
And then the demographers have their say:
The federal institute for demographic research said the main reason cited for not having children was the lack of either a partner or a stable relationship, which accounted for 83 percent of respondents.
However, nearly 60 percent said concerns for the future of their potential children had dissuaded them.
In a different study, released by the Forsa polling institute in January, only 29 percent of women pointed to the financial burden of a child and only 39 percent named not wanting to give up their career as their reason for not having children.
Having a family "seems to have become an abstract idea", the federal institute concluded.
So, the problem seems to be a financial or social problem. What can the government do, you ask? Pay people to have babies.

That's right, the government of Germany is now offering incentives to people who have children.
The new "Elterngeld" _ or "parent money" _ program allows an adult who stops work after a child is born to continue to claim two-thirds of their net wage, up to a maximum $2,375 per month. Low earners can claim 100 percent compensation for lost wages.
One parent can claim for up to 12 months; if both parents take a turn, they can claim the benefit for a total of 14 months _ a tweak designed to encourage more fathers to help.
Germany previously paid a flat $400 a month in benefits to needy parents for up to two years. The change is expected to raise the annual outlay in direct payments for parents with infants by about $1.2 billion per year to $5 billion.
It seems as if Germany is not alone in these efforts to get people back to baby-making. There are efforts in other European countries to do the same:
France offers additional help to some families who need in-home care. The Swedes give either moms or dads 80 percent of their salary for a total of 480 days in a parental leave.
While the French had 12.7 new babies per 1,000 residents in 2004 and the Swedes 11.2, Germany recorded only 8.5 new births _ the lowest rate in Europe not counting Vatican City.
Britain introduced a so-called "baby bonds" scheme in 2004, giving a $490 voucher to every newborn to start a trust fund, while a new Russian law entitles families to a bonus of $9,600 following the birth of a second child and any subsequent children.
Wow, a crisis because people won't have children. Who would have ever thought that you would need to ask people to please have children and then offer them money to do it? Reading the quotes above and seeing things like, "I don't want to be dependant on my spouse" or "It's not sexy to have children" make me ask just how inverted has contraception made our priorities? Children used to be a blessing, something people prayed for, now its a disaster if you get pregnant.

Let the demographers and the social scientists continue to wrap their heads around this, but it seems that throwing money at problem never solved anything, it just helped us ignore it for a little while longer.

What really needs to happen is a re-awakening of the connection between love, sex, and babies.

Some related links:

Humanae Vitae
The Condom Debate over at American Papist
Debate between Dr. Janet Smith and Dr. Charles Curran on contraception
A collection of articles written by Dr. Janet Smith
The National Catholic Bioethics Center


Biby Cletus said...

Cool blog, i just randomly surfed in, but it sure was worth my time, will be back

Deep Regards from the other side of the Moon

Biby Cletus

Sean said...

this just shows what the breakdown of the family causes. When the culture no longer encourages the true character of the family, the government has to try to pay people to become families. Stupid pagans.