Sunday, September 25, 2005

France fighting declining population

France has looked the "benefits" of a stable or declining population in the eye and has concluded that the costs are higher than the benefits. France announced that women will be rewarded for having children this week. Deutsche Well reports:
They include an increased monthly grant for mothers who take time off work for a third baby. France has one of the highest birth rates in Europe. Of the 25 nations in the European Union, only Ireland's rate is higher.
The problem is not enough children to support the social welfare programs 10 years and more in the future. You can't have lavish benefits for everyone if there is not enough tax revenue to support them.
Evelyne Sullerot, one of France's leading sociologists, points out that France also has one of Europe's highest proportions of women in the workforce. She adds that more needs to be done to promote a balance between work and family life. "Things aren'’t going well in France. With 1.9 children per woman, we have one of the highest birth rates in Europe. But itÂ’s still not enough for us to reproduce our generations," said Sullerot.
And they see the requirement to work as reducing the birth rate.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said the new measures were intended to "allow a better conciliation between professional and family life up to the child's majority." Under the proposals, a parent who takes time off from work for a third child will have the option of a boosted monthly pay-out of 750 euros ($915) for one year. Currently the figure is set at $500 available over three years. According to Hubert Brin, president of the National Union of Family Associations (UNAF), the increased payment is to encourage higher-earners to have a third child. The current rate is only attractive for couples on low incomes. But we have to encourage professionals with higher incomes to have babies," he said.
And how about other countries in Europe? Is this a trend?
Falling birth rates are a growing worry across the EU, with demographers predicting that large-scale immigration will be necessary in many countries in order to sustain the benefits enjoyed by a steadily aging population.

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