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 and sex 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.Fortunately, the reporter (Danny Hakim) picks up on the irony of trying to bring more babies into a world where the youth employment rate is already high. Will more babies improve that situation? Not likely.
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.The story ends with the news that there were about 1,000 more births in 2014 than the year before in Denmark and that maybe sex education had something to do with it. I assembled data from Statistik Denmark (see below) showing that births dropped off with the Great Recession, suggesting that it will take an improved economy to see the birth rate rise back up to where it was before that. Kids don't need pregnancy encouragement--they need a good job.