The Corner

Vicious Cycle

This story about Germany’s demographic implosion is depressing but interesting:

“Families say they want kids, even several kids, but many are saying, ‘no, we had better wait’,” said Annette Buschmann, director of the women’s counseling department at the Stadtmission Chemnitz. She and her staff counsel pregnant women on their various options.

 

“In our office, we hear all the time that it’s an overall insecurity about work and one’s future economic security that keeps women from having children,” she said.

 

Chemnitz finds itself in the same situation many eastern German cities do, which have yet to see the “blossoming landscapes” promised by then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl when East and West Germany were unified. The unemployment rate in Chemnitz is over 20 percent, and the city’s population is shrinking, having lost more than a fifth of its population since 1990. Many of those unsightly housing blocks built to house the socialist worker sit empty.

 Me: I completely understand the fear and axiety parents have about providing for their kids and thinking they need to make enough money before they start a family. And I’m sure there are all manner of specific circumstances which evade sweeping generalizatioms. But I wonder if this has it backwards. It seems to me I keep hearing about studies showing  that men are more productive as they have kids. Perhaps people wait to have enough money before they have kids when, counter-intuitively, people only really find the money they “need” after they have the kids. Certainly these people in Germany live better than their parents, never mind their grandparents did. So something else is going on. 

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