Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Lowest-low fertility in Europe

The New York Times has written the longest article yet seen about lowest-low fertility in Europe. Lowest-low fertility refers to a fertility rate of under 1.3 children per woman. Most of southern and eastern Europe, along with Japan and South Korea has fertility rates this low.

The article, titled simply No Babies, looks at practical examples of the nature of the problem and the future Europe faces. On the whole, it believes that the traditional model of a working husband and stay-at-home wife - which was supposed thorugh the experience of the 1950s "baby boom" to produce the most effective and largest families - to be wrong, because those societies where the highest proportion of women work have relatively better fertility rates than those where female employment is less important.

Many of my Epinions articles, and in a less clear manner most religious conservatives, aim to link declining fertility to undoubted masculinisation of women. It is true that in less-masculinised Australia and the US, as the article impressively points out, "mores have evolved to the point where not only is it socially acceptable for fathers to be active participants in raising children, but it’s also often socially unacceptable for them to do otherwise." This lesser masculinisation of culture may well give women much more room to work on their own terms, as with the homeschooling movement, than is possible in a society where labour markets are rigid and extremely competitive as they are in Europe and East Asia.

No comments: