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Almost every developed country from Japan and South Korea to the UK has low birth rates. I’m sure some folks in high density countries like Japan and the Netherlands are happy about this, however there is a demographic problem in that their will not be enough workers to burden the welfare state as the baby boom generations start to retire. America is not as bad, because Americans tend to have slightly more children and that is largely due to poor minorities and immigrants. In France most of the high birth rate is due to Muslims and they have a very high unemployment rate which makes them a net negative for the government coffers, not a benefit.
So why aren’t us, the rich of the world (and yes believe it or not you are quite rich) not making babies anymore? What to do about it? Japan seems to think they can innovate their way out of it by creating better technology, so far there is no sign that is going to work. Other nations want immigration but are afraid to turn their country into a third world state or radically change the existing culture with fundamentally different immigrants who will not assimilate (Japan is one of these, and many European nations are starting to go this way).
In the end evolution and history do not care who has the best technology, the best culture, the most intelligent population, etc. All that matters in the end is if you live to reproduce and ensure that your children grow to adulthood to reproduce to continue the cultural and biological line. That is pure Darwinism. The way we are going…most Western nations, as we know them will either be fundamentally altered or nearly extinct. I wonder are they cultures worth saving? If not, what type of cultures produce political and economic systems where reproduction stagnates or stops? Is that a good culture? Are our liberal capitalistic democracies broken?
May 3rd 2007 | BERLIN
From The Economist print edition
Germany needs more children. Who will pay, and who will look after them?
A TIRELESS reformer, Ursula von der Leyen is also one of Germany‘s most popular politicians. She has two degrees (in medicine and business) and seven children. She may be ideally qualified to run the family ministry, but this does not always make her popular with her government colleagues.
By 2013 Mrs von der Leyen wants to treble the number of available nursery places to 750,000, covering one-third of Germany‘s under-threes. That, she argues, will make it easier for mothers to work, and encourage them to have more children: Germany has the lowest birth rate in rich Europe, with 1.3 children per woman compared with 1.9 in France and 1.8 in Sweden. The birth rate among professional women is particularly low.
Mrs von der Leyen thinks Germany is getting a bad deal. The state spends 2.9% of GDP on family policy compared with an average of 2% in the rich countries of the European Union. Most goes in cash payments to parents; in France and Scandinavia, by contrast, most of the budget goes on child care. In western Germany almost all schools and nurseries close at lunchtime. But the proposal has infuriated social conservatives. Walter Mixa, a Catholic bishop, said it degraded women to “birthing machines”. Such attacks reflect in part the German state’s troubled relationship with family policy in the past. Leonie Herwartz-Emden of Augsburg University says the word “motherhood” is loaded because of the Nazis’ glorification of child-bearing. Yet these days working mothers are sometimes called Rabenmütter or raven-mothers, reflecting the notion that this species abandons chicks pitifully early in life.
An even bigger row is about the cash, estimated at €3 billion ($4 billion) a year, needed to pay for the reform. Germany‘s federal states and municipalities have backed the scheme, but only if they don’t have to pay for extra running costs. The Social Democrats suggest paying for it by cutting child-benefit payments and tax breaks for married couples. But their partners in the governing coalition, the Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party, as well as the chancellor, Angela Merkel, oppose rejigging subsidies this way. Mrs von der Leyen is meeting the finance minister on May 9th. Much will depend on whether the even more popular Mrs Merkel will continue to back her protégée.
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