Sunday, July 15, 2007

Baby Boom in Germany

The Financial Times details how the Germans have been experiencing a very recent baby boom (15% increase in births over the same time last year). They are crediting recently legislated (3 years ago) pro-natalist policies and a paradigmatic shift in the way Germans view women's participation in the labor force after child bearing (namely that they should as opposed sitting at home) contributing to the baby boom. My guess is that neither of these factors are contributing to the baby boom. First, Germany has a relatively lush welfare society and arguably much family friendlier taxation. In spite of the generous welfare state, or in my view, because of it, Europeans and Germans in particular have decided that raising a family is tiresome and expensive and by and large have opted not to. I doubt any legislation will change that conclusion.

Second, I don't think attitudes change as quickly as the financial times seems to be assuming. My guess is that the women in Germany would have a similarly high rate of labor force participation as her American counterpart but with higher expectations of her when she comes home to her hubby. This is probably in part why 1) Europeans do not get married 2) to the extent they do they don't have many children. The financial times posits a massive shift in attitude in an unbelievably short time. Attitudes towards these types of things I think evolve more slowly.

I think the baby boom is the direct result of the World Cup. The country went on a drunken binge and were genuinely excited about the event itself but also how the world received the event and Germany in turn. Everybody had a lot of sex, more casual and unprotected than usual, and we are starting to see the short run effects.

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