After destroying religion and marriage, Europe tries to convince people to make babies

Fertility rates in European countries
Fertility rates in European countries (click for larger image)

This is from the radically leftist New York Times, of all places.

They write:

Recently, Sex and Society, a nonprofit group that provides much of Denmark’s sex education, adjusted its curriculum. The group no longer has a sole emphasis on how to prevent getting pregnant but now also talks about pregnancy in a more positive light.

It is all part of a not-so-subtle push in Europe to encourage people to have more babies. Denmark, like a number of European countries, is growing increasingly anxious about low birthrates. Those concerns have only been intensified by the region’s financial and economic crisis, with high unemployment rates among the young viewed as discouraging potential parents.

The Italian health minister described Italy as a “dying country” in February. Germany has spent heavily on family subsidies but has little to show for it. Greece’s depression hasfurther stalled its birthrate. And in Denmark, the birthrate has been below the so-called replacement rate needed to keep a population from declining — just over two children per woman — since the early 1970s.

“For many, many years, we only talked about safe sex, how to prevent getting pregnant,” said Marianne Lomholt, the national director of Sex and Society. “Suddenly we just thought, maybe we should actually also tell them about how to get pregnant.”

The demographic shift is more pressing in Europe than almost any other major region, save Japan. There are an estimated 28 Europeans 65 or older for every 100 residents ages 20 to 64, almost twice the world average, according to the United Nations, and compared with 24.7 for the United States. By the end of the century, the United Nations expects the European figure to double.

Such trends will transform societies, potentially reducing economic growth and increasing stress on public pension systems and requiring more elder care. Japan already faces existential questions in a country whereadult diaper sales are beginning to eclipse those of baby diapers.

But there is not a consensus about the impact of demographics. Some see a natural maturing of developed societies. Others see disaster ahead, because with fewer workers and more retirees, the active work force faces an increased burden to sustain social programs.

Productivity gains over time, though, can make up for such population stresses. Declining birthrates can also lead to labor shortages, and Germany has faced a gap in skilled labor. But that is hardly an issue now for much of Europe, which is mired in high unemployment.

OK, so it’s a crisis. But how did it happen?

Nicholas Eberstadt explains what’s happening to marriage and parenting, in this Wall Street Journal article.

Why is it happening?

All around the world today, pre-existing family patterns are being upended by a revolutionary new force: the seemingly unstoppable quest for convenience by adults demanding ever-greater autonomy. We can think of this as another triumph of consumer sovereignty, which has at last brought rational choice and elective affinities into a bastion heretofore governed by traditions and duties—many of them onerous. Thanks to this revolution, it is perhaps easier than ever before to free oneself from the burdens that would otherwise be imposed by spouses, children, relatives or significant others with whom one shares a hearth.

People are rejecting responsibilities, expectations, and obligations because they are selfish.

When he talks about Europe, he offers an explanation for this:

Now consider Europe, where the revolution in the family has gained still more ground. European demographers even have an elegant name for the phenomenon: They call it the Second Demographic Transition (the First being the shift from high birth rates and death rates to low ones that began in Europe in the early industrial era and by now encompasses almost every society). In the schema of the Second Demographic Transition, long, stable marriages are out, and divorce or separation are in, along with serial cohabitation and increasingly contingent liaisons. Not surprisingly, this new environment of perennially conditional, no-fault unions was also seen as ushering in an era of more or less permanent sub-replacement fertility.

According to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical agency, the probability of marriage before age 50 has been plummeting for European women and men, while the chance of divorce for those who do marry has been soaring. In Belgium—the birth-land of the scholars who initially detected this Second Transition—the likelihood of a first marriage for a woman of reproductive age is now down to 40%, and the likelihood of divorce is over 50%. This means that in Belgium the odds of getting married and staying married are under one in five. A number of other European countries have similar or even lower odds.

Europe has also seen a surge in “child-free” adults—voluntary childlessness. The proportion of childless 40-something women is one in five for Sweden and Switzerland, and one in four for Italy. In Berlin and in the German city-state of Hamburg, it’s nearly one in three, and rising swiftly. Europe’s most rapidly growing family type is the one-person household: the home not only child-free, but partner- and relative-free as well. In Western Europe, nearly one home in three (32%) is already a one-person unit, while in autonomy-prizing Denmark the number exceeds 45%. The rise of the one-person home coincides with population aging. But it is not primarily driven by the graying of European society, at least thus far: Over twice as many Danes under 65 are living alone as those over 65.

“Perenially conditional, no-fault unions”. That means that either party can leave at any time, for any reason.

Basically, people became skeptical of objective morality and the afterlife, and they have decided to follow their hearts and go more the most happiness they can have in this life. And they’ve noticed that relationships with other people – with all the nasty expectations, obligations and responsibilities – get in the way of this self-centeredness. To get married and have children is to embrace responsibility. It means that you are accepting the obligation to learn the needs of other people and care for those needs. Something has gone wrong in European society where these social obligations declined, just as religion declined. And the same thing is being taught to the next generation in our most prestigious universities.

This is a bird’s-eye view. I’ll have a closer look at the problem in my next post.

17 thoughts on “After destroying religion and marriage, Europe tries to convince people to make babies”

  1. Seems to me like we should leave them alone and liberalism will die with the people who fostered it upon the rest of the population.

    Christians! Have more babies and raise them as Christians. That is another way to “go and make disciples…” that much of the church seems to ignore.


    1. It’s not that easy. We Christians are not good at passing on our values. There is no emphasis on apologetics, no explanations for rules around sexuality, and no connecting Christianity to specific policies that make the Christian life easier, e.g. – religious liberty.


      1. The Amish typically lose 25% of their kids to the outside world. But, when you have 12 kids and lose 3 that leaves you 9 to each have another 12 kids and lose 3.

        The numerical multiplication of the Amish in America has been amazing.


      2. Well, I would agree with that. However this is easily rectified. You just have to isolate your children and make sure they are only in contact with other Traditionalist Christians. If that means a change in locale, the sacrifice is worth it. I think this will get easier as the legal discrimination becomes commonplace and more oppressive. Christians will want to band together in isolated communities.


        1. Isolating one’s children from outside influences is certainly helpful for a short portion of their childhood, before they are able to understand or evaluate other worldviews and before they have the critical thinking skills and knowledge to do so correctly.

          However, one cannot depend on isolation from false ideas as the sole protection for one’s children. It may work for some, but far too many Christian parents have relied solely on isolation and reaped tragic results. The Christian bubble will eventually burst. There are always ways for wrong ideas to creep in. Even the strictest and most isolated Christian communities have people with wrong views. Even the most conservative Christian schools and colleges contain people with wrong thinking. And the danger isn’t only from without, but from within your child. All of us have our own sin nature to combat, after all.

          You have to pair sheltering with rigorous training in apologetics and critical thinking and gradually introduce them to false ideas while showing them how to evaluate them properly. They need to know what’s out there (at least a good sampling), but also what’s wrong with those ideas. They need to know the Christian worldview has real answers and is in keeping with reality and that it can compete in the marketplace of ideas. It’s inoculation against false ideas, not merely isolation, that provides the best protection.


    2. Yes, the church is supposed to grow biologically as well as through evangelism of those outside the church. Christians need to be having more kids. Of course, they also have to be training them far more rigorously than most do today. The idea is to keep them in the faith, not lose them to the world, and for that you need a comprehensive Biblical worldview AND the apologetics to defend it with evidence.


      1. In order to be committed to apologetics, you have to be firmly (as in “above all else”) committed to living the faith, 24/7/365. Unfortunately, this describes but a tiny fraction of those who call themselves “Christian.” Being able to not only defend, but rigorously evangelize the Christian message requires dedication and effort, particularly in the study of Scripture, something that far too few are willing to commit to. This explains the seeming inability, or even unwillingness of most believers to commit to spreading the faith, in what ever way they can. Small wonder that the body has been largely stagnant or in decline, at least in the West.


  2. I don’t know. With the misandrist beast that is Western divorce/family court, the risks seem to outweigh the benefits when it comes to marriage and childbearing.

    It seems strange for me as a Christian man to be admiring the decline of marriage, but I am.


    1. This isn’t the decline of marriage – marriage was replaced with something different called no fault divorce back in the 60s, though we do tend to call it marriage.


  3. “Some see a natural maturing of developed societies. Others see disaster ahead”

    And still others see the momentous opportunity rapidly approaching. The tiger tires, the end is coming closer for this 300 year long nightmare.

    No Reactionary should care about the decline of Western civilization, it is already dead to him. In fact, he applaud the death of the West, for only on its ashes can we rebuild Christendom.

    The insufferable Oprah said recently that southern white people ‘just have to die off’. Well, now we shall see the Modernist die off. Don’t weep for him. Remember, these people have the blood of millions of unborn on their hands. It will be joyous to watch them fall into ruin


  4. I’m not sure how familiar you are with the Quiverfull movement, but if you can’t beat them in the culture war now, you can outbreed them later.

    I’ve always wondered why Conservatives don’t encourage worldview opponents – namely SJW type liberals – to have always have an abortion.

    If large homeschooling families keep at it and liberals keep having one kid at the most, future voting patterns are going to change.

    This all assumes that the country is still intact in 30 years and that “Christians”, conservatives, and other non-liberal types don’t send their kids to the public schools and actually give them a basic worldview primer.


    1. I think women should have lots of children, but I also insist that women get a BS and also do some sort of post-graduate degree or professional certification. And I want them to work a few years before marrying as well and have no loans. I prefer then to do STEM degrees. I know it’s a tall order, but STEM degrees and graduate school help them to raise EFFECTIVE, INFLUENTIAL children. The post-graduate degree can be done after marrying, though. as long as it’s done before the kids hit high school or so. So it’s not the numbers that matter, it’s their ability to lead children to make a difference. You want the most intelligent, educated, nurturing woman you can get. Her job is not just to make the babies. That’s easy-ish. It’s MUCH HARDER for her to make sure that they not only don’t lose their faith, but also make a difference when they grow up. So I am not in the Quiverfull movement, I just want women to study hard things, work a bit, then take raising children seriously. It’s the most important legacy of the marriage. Not the number of kids, but how much they do to serve God effectively, influentially.

      I would be willing to pay for my wife to do multiple graduate degrees after we were married – as many as she wanted. So long as the children and I were important to her.


      1. One positive about Quiverfull; they have proven that a family with a SAHM can financially afford to raise more than the typical 1 or 2 children.


    2. The problem with the Quiverfull movement is that they tend to emphasize quantity at the expense of quality. But the goal isn’t necessarily to have a lot of kids. The goal is to have well-trained, well-educated, and effective children who are going to stick with Christianity and who can articulate the reasons and evidence for the Christian worldview to the world – whether that’s to an audience of hundreds or just to their co-workers and friends.

      If someone can have a dozen kids and train them all well, that’s great. I’m all for Christians having big families. But it’s important to emphasize that quality is more important than quantity and that you have to train your children rigorously, whether you have one or a dozen.


      1. Lindsay,

        I think you are looking at the Quiverfull movement through a microscope.

        The problem with the lack of quality in children is widespread across Christianity in North America, it is not a unique feature of the Quiverfull movement. Example, WK says the church he attends does not preach about apologetics, critical thinking or how to address current issues.


        1. I never said that the Quiverfull movement was the only group of people with low quality children. In fact, many of them have very high quality children compared to the vast majority of people out there. I only said that the focus on quantity over quality is flawed. If all you tell people is that they should have more children without ALSO telling them that they need to be sure to raise those children right, you’re missing something. And it’s an important something.


  5. Reblogged this on oogenhand and commented:
    “I’ve always wondered why Conservatives don’t encourage worldview opponents – namely SJW type liberals – to have always have an abortion.”

    It is suspected that Muslims and Orthodox Jews do take such views. Modern on the outside, Chabad on the inside. If you really want to increase birthrates, tell people that they shouldn’t choose a husband for his ability to make money, but that they should trust God to provide for the children born.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s