Europe's birthrate drops due to Covid: what to do?
In the context of the Corona crisis, the birth rate has plummeted in many European countries as well as in the USA and China, among others. In Spain, for example, there were 22.6 percent fewer births in January compared to the previous year, and in France 13 percent. Commentators ponder what could help and refer to the opposite trend in poorer countries with concern.
Work, education, housing - challenges everywhere
El País calls on politicians to act:
“Once again it is clear that political measures are urgently needed to improve the situation of young people. Both on the labour market, where the precarious working conditions must be improved by raising the minimum wage as soon as the worst phase of the crisis is over, and in the education system, the quality of which largely determines professional success - and in access to housing. This is a strategic challenge of enormous importance. It would be a dreadful mistake to underestimate its importance simply because the impact is not immediate.”
Nothing changes without a change in mentality
A social transformation is what is needed now, geographer Laurent Chalard writes in Le Figaro:
“What is required is a complete change in our mentality and the way our societies function. The consumption-based, hyper-individualistic capitalist model that prevails in our time indirectly leads to low fertility - because children are seen as just another consumer product entailing particularly high costs. Until we come up with a system of values in which individuals can have rearing offspring as a primary goal - higher even than their materialistic requirements - all possible and impossible family policy measures will fail to solve the problem.”
Gap between poor and rich countries is growing
In many poorer countries, the Covid crisis has had the opposite effect and the birth rate has increased. There, access to contraception is difficult, sexual violence is increasing, and women tend to marry at a younger age. Le Point explains the consequences of this demographic trend around the globe:
“In Europe, the continent with the oldest population in the world, the ratio of people who are employed compared to those who are not is likely to fall faster than expected. Financing pensions will become ever more complicated. Conversely, poor countries with limited resources and inadequate infrastructures are likely to find it more difficult to meet the needs of young, rapidly growing populations. The gap between the two groups of countries will increase the migratory pressures as well as social and political tensions.”