The New Statesman has an article about how various European countries are doing in raising their fertility rates to something closer to stability than total implosion by offering more generous tax breaks, child care, maternity leave, and other benefits designed to make childbearing more attractive. France especially has apparently gone into this in a big way.
The question is, of course, will this encourage significantly more people to have two or more children, or will is the uptick in births that the French are currentlying seeing just the result of the new policies causing couples who had always meant to have a child "some day" but hadn't yet to go ahead and try it now. Only time will tell.
It seems to me that sustained higher fertility rates would require a more fundamental change than economics: people would need to start thinking about life in a different way. After all, the average French or German family may not be as well off as the average American family, but they're certain more well off than the average Mexican or Philipino family -- yet those countries are not experiencing the same heights of childlessness that much of Europe is.
It seems to me likely that it's not simply that not enough Europeans can afford to have children, but rather that many of them simply don't want any.
Saint Catherine of the Wheel
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