Saturday, July 11, 2009

France's high birth rate

In view of the inaccurate teaching by some preachers that the Bible mandates fathers to work outside the home, and mothers to stay at home, I wanted to see if this would benefit the birth rate or suppress it.

The latest trends based on comparing the birth rate in European countries is that creating a climate in which women can continue to work while they also have children causes the birth rate to reach replacement levels, while reinforcing a traditional pattern of gender roles, causes the birth rate to decline dangerously.

One example of this is the extremely low birth rate in Italy, now at about 1.2 and the climbing birth rate in France at 2.1. Here are some relevant articles.
    In 2007, France’s national statistical authority announced that the country had overtaken Ireland to boast the highest birthrate in Europe. In France, the fertility rate has risen from 1.7 in 1993 to 2.1 in 2007, its highest level since before 1980, despite a steady fall in birthrates among women not born in France. France’s National Institute of Demographic Studies reports that the immigrant population is responsible for only five percent of the rise in the ­birthrate. Muslim Birthrates Falling Worldwide

    According to APM, France has Europe's second-highest birth rate in part because of incentives offered by the government. Such incentives include:
    • Three-year paid parental leave with guaranteed job protection upon returning to the workforce;
    • Universal, full-time preschool starting at age three;
    • Subsidized daycare before age three;
    • Stipends for in-home nannies; and
    • Monthly childcare allowances that increase with the number of children per family.

    Juliette LaFont, spokesperson for the French Ministry of Family Affairs, said that what distinguishes France from other European countries is its "policy of giving women the choice to work or not by giving them all of the services and financial means." APM reports that France spends $57 billion annually, nearly 15% of its total budget, for family and child services. The APM segment also includes comments from French women who have received the benefits ("Marketplace," APM, 9/21). Medical News Today.

    There is abundant evidence that if you want women in modern economies to have more babies, you need to help them reconcile work and childbearing, not encourage their subjection. In developing countries a lower status for women is associated with higher fertility, but once societies become highly industrialized and women taste a certain amount of liberation, the opposite is true.

    Yale political scientists Frances A. Rosenbluth, Matthew Light, and Claudia Schrag came to the same conclusion in a 2002 paper. “To put our thesis in the simplest terms, fertility is low where vested interests keep women out of the workforce, and higher where easy labour market accessibility and child care support make it easier for women to balance family and career,” they wrote. Michelle Goldberg page 206

    Italian males, even the young, are ill adapted to this new equality of genders. Even those who shared school classes with girls from early childhood are not prepared for family life in which women are on equal footing with men ... The link between these attitudes and fertility behavior is direct. A woman who engages in repeated childbearing runs the risk of being relegated to roles from which young Italian women struggle to escape. Jean-Claude Chesnais in Michelle Goldberg page 216