Europe’s marriage crisis
By Maggie Gallagher, from Townhall.com
A funny thing happened on the way to the overpopulation crisis.
Just when demographers expected Europeans to nest in nuclear families with 2.1 children, population trends exploded in a different direction.
Ron Lesthaeghe, the great European demographer, calls this the “Second Demographic Transition.”
Its two most disturbing indicators? Skyrocketing out-of-wedlock births and collapsing fertility.
Take collapsing fertility, for example. (Scholar Francesco Billari sums up the new Euro reality in a recent book chapter.) It takes 2.1 children per woman to replace the population. In 2000, only six major western European nations had total fertility rates as high as 1.7 (France, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands); four nations had on average at least 1.5 but less than 1.7 children per woman (Belgium, United Kingdom, Portugal, Sweden); four more have slipped into the crisis level demographers define as “very low fertility” of less than 1.5 — Austria (1.3), the former West Germany (1.4), Italy (1.2) and Spain (1.2).
By contrast, between 1980 and 2000, the United States’ fertility climbed from 1.85 back up to 2.06.
As Billari explains, a total fertility rate of 1.5 (slightly more than the European average) cuts the population in half every 65 years.
At 1.3 children per woman, the population gets cut in half every 32 years. Do the math.
Europe is also in the middle of a striking retreat from marriage.
Between 1980 and 2000, Norway’s unmarried childbearing rate jumped from 14.5 percent to 50 percent. Over the same time period, Great Britain jumped from 11.5 percent to 39.5 percent.
The out-of-wedlock birthrate in the Netherlands actually sextupled, from a low 5 percent to 25 percent of all births. (Only Ireland experienced a similar explosion.
Over the same period, the U.S. illegitimacy rate rose from 18 percent to 33 percent.
But not all over America. In a fascinating recent study, Lesthaeghe and a colleague looked for evidence of the Second Demographic Transition in America.
What states are leading indicators of SDT, as measured by postponement of marriage and children? California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and (the most extreme outlier of all) Massachusetts.
Recognize this list? Except for Rhode Island, they are among the first states gay marriage advocates chose to pursue court-created gay marriage.
Gay marriage advocates here and abroad can expect to happily reap the benefits of the Second Demographic Transition. But as the consequences for Europe painfully suggest, maybe not for long.
Dr. Pinna says:
Marriage as an institution is disappearing rapidly for the educated people of the west. It is being replaced by “Gay Marriage” which is simply a ploy to get more money from the tax payers for individuals who see a disinterested public as a source for retirement funds, for health care payments and for the avoidance of taxes.
Those people who are still getting married because of their religious beliefs want these benefits as well.
As a consequence, the tax payer is paying for everybody who can stick their hand out.
As for demographics, the children still being produced in Europe and the USA are mostly from the uneducated. Educated women want few or no children. On the other side of the world, the Asians still believe in the family and they rarely divorce or have children outside of marriage.
You can see where this planet is going.