Thursday, May 27, 2010

Germany is in Trouble and the Problem is Religious in Nature

At a time when Germany is the most economically powerful nation in Europe and straining to bail out Greece and stabilize the Euro, the economic future of the country looks grim because of the critically low birth rate. Here is an excerpt from Time on why Germans are declining to reproduce themselves.
Germany is shrinking — fast. New figures released on May 17 show the birth rate in Europe's biggest economy has plummeted to a historic low, dropping to a level not seen since 1946. As demographers warn of the consequences of not making enough babies to replace and support an aging population, the latest figures have triggered a bout of national soul-searching and cast a harsh light on Chancellor Angela Merkel's family policies.

According to a preliminary analysis by the Federal Statistics Office, 651,000 children were born in Germany in 2009 — 30,000 fewer than in 2008, a dip of 3.6%. In 1990, German mothers were having on average 1.5 children each; today that average is down to 1.38 children per mother. With a shortfall of 190,000 between the number of people who died and the number of children who were born, Germany's birth rate is well below the level required to keep the population stable. (See why the recession is causing women to have fewer kids.)

"The German birth rate has remained remarkably flat over the past few years while it has increased in other low-fertility countries, like Italy and the Czech Republic," Joshua Goldstein, executive director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, tells TIME. "Women are continuing to postpone motherhood to an older age and this process of postponement is temporarily lowering the birth rate." According to Goldstein's research, Germany has the longest history of low fertility in Europe.

To explain Germany's low reproduction rate, Steffen Kröhnert, a social scientist at the Berlin Institute for Population Development, points to a number of factors. Many German women decide not to have children because of poor state-run child-care facilities. Most schools in Germany finish earlier than in other parts of Europe — some as early as 1 p.m. — leaving parents struggling to find and afford sufficient day care. And often women who take up part-time jobs to try to juggle work and family life end up paying a high financial price. "Many German women have to stop work and end their careers if they want to have kids," says Kröhnert. It doesn't help that German mothers are still often branded Rabenmütter — "raven mothers" — a pejorative label that accuses them of being bad mothers if they decide to put their children in nurseries and continue working.

Read the rest here.

The common mistake being made here is to treat this as an economic and political problem when the real source of the problem is upstream from politics and lies in the realm of culture and religion. The real problem is the culture of death and its anti-humanistic bias. The environmentalist movement sees humans as a cancer on the earth. Materialism views humans as just mouths to feed, not as people with inherent dignity because they are made in God's image. With no belief in a higher purpose in life or a reason to live beyond pleasure, the idea of self-sacrifice seems to be unreasonable. The only solution to this problem is a religious revival of Christianity and it may already be too late for Germany.

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