As couples grapple with a longer-than-expected stretch of low growth, high unemployment, precarious jobs and financial strain, they are increasingly deciding to have just one child — or none.
Approximately a fifth of women born in the 1970s are likely to remain childless in Greece, Spain and Italy, a level not seen since World War I, according to the Wittgenstein Center for Demography and Global Human Capital, based in Vienna. And hundreds of thousands of fertile young people have left for Germany, Britain and the prosperous north, with little intent of returning unless the economy improves.Data from the UN Population Division reveal that none of the region's three largest countries--Greece, Italy, and Spain, has had above replacement levels at any time since 1980. This is not a new thing. It is not a crisis of reproduction (or lack thereof), so much as it is a crisis of the political economies and cultures of the region.
“As long as Greece has high unemployment, it may be good luck that there’s not a baby boom,” said Byron Kotzamanis, a demography professor at the University of Thessaly.The article hints at the problem of gender equality, but if you've read my book and this blog (such as this post in January), you'll know that I am one of many people who think that the cultural issue of gender inequality is an important reason for the very low fertility in southern (and eastern) Europe, just as it is in East Asia.
“If there was,” he added, “we might have more problems right now.”