Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Europe is trying to promote having babies...

But at the end of the day Europe needs a cultural change, not just better pro-family policies (though they can help). Here's the intro to the article from Zenit...

http://www2.tulane.edu/images/babies.jpg

EUROPE'S ENDANGERED FAMILIES

MADRID, Spain, MAY 22, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Finding an effective strategy to help European families is not proving easy. This month the Madrid-based Institute for Family Policies published a study titled, "Report on the Evolution of the Family in Europe 2006." The report noted a growing awareness of the need to protect the family and family life. Yet in spite of this concern, the family is under increasing pressure.

The first sections of the report look at the problem of a declining birthrate and an aging population. It then considers how marriage is faring. During 1980-2004, the number of marriages in the 25-member countries of the European Union dropped by more than 663,600, even as the population grew by 31.1 million. In 2003 the average age at marriage for men was 30, and for women, 27.7. The respective figures for 1980 were 26 and 23.3.

Another trend is the increasing numbers of children being born outside of marriage. A strict comparison here for the current 25 EU member countries is not possible due to the recent entry of 10 nations. But in the 15 older EU member countries, in 1980, only 9.6% of children were born to single women or unmarried couples. By 2004 this skyrocketed to 32.8%. The 2004 figure for all 25 EU countries is 31.6%.

The overall average conceals wide variations among countries, however. Sweden's proportion of out-of-wedlock births stands at 55.4%; Denmark's at 45.4%; France's, 45.2%; and the United Kingdom's, 42.3%. Greece and Italy, at 4.9% and 14.9%, respectively, have relatively low levels.

Divorce rates, meanwhile, increased by about half over the last couple of decades. From 1990 to 2004, more than 10 million marriages broke up in the 15 EU nations, affecting more than 16 million children.

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