Europe has to decide – immigration or tax incentives for having children

The latest fertility statistics in Europe present an unsustainable picture. Nowhere is the fertility rate at or higher than the replenishment rate of 2.1 live births per women. The average for Europe is under 1.6 with a mean age of 29 for a woman having her first child. France and Ireland have the highest rates but still less than 2.0 followed by Sweden, the UK and Iceland (all between 1.8 and 1.9). The lowest rates are in Poland, Portugal, Greece, Spain and Italy (all less than 1.4).

These levels are unsustainable.

A declining population if left to itself would lead to a catastrophic population implosion. The Black Death in England (1348-1350) reduced the population by over 30% and it took the country almost 100 years to recover. Europe today is relying on immigration to compensate for the low fertility. Initially, immigrants have a higher fertility rate than the society they move in to but within one generation they too display the prevailing fertility rates. Just relying on immigration creates social stresses and is also unsustainable.

Within the next twenty years most European countries will have no choice but to introduce tax incentives for having more children. In fact it is necessary now.


 

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