PARIS, September 28, 2005 ( – France, once one of Europe’s most fecund nations, has seen the writing on the wall and begun to offer parents financial incentives to encourage more childbirth.

At a replacement rate of 1.9 babies per woman – still below the 2.1 rate necessary to simply maintain a population – France is one of the better off European nations, second only to Ireland in fertility rate.

The French have introduced incentives to try to counter the fiscal disaster the birth decline will eventually cause by offering financial incentives to couples to have a third child, such as increasing monthly welfare payments for parents who take unpaid leave from work to care for a third child.

With abortion rates exceeding births in much of Eastern Europe, and dismally low replacement rates in many other nations, the prospects for the future of social security in EuropeÂare dismal. The EU average birth rate is 1.5 children per woman, with several at less than 1.3 – Greece, Spain, Germany and Italy, as well as most of Eastern Europe.

With current trends, Germany could lose a fifth of its 82.5 million people in the next 40 years. Sociologist Ben Wattenberg, in his book, Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future, warns, “Never in the last 650 years, since the time of the Black Plague, have birth and fertility rates fallen so far, so fast, so low, for so long, in so many places.”

Brookings Institution demographer William Frey predicted that the median age in Europe will rise to 52.3 from 37.7 by 2050. Currently there are two working people for every retired European and it is expected that by 2035 every worker will support one retired person.

Exploding pension-age populations will combine with flat or declining labour forces to create the potential for significant fiscal shortfalls in the countries by 2010. Labour shortages will slow economic growth rates – after 2025, growth is expected to average substantially less than one percent annually in Japan and Western Europe; and less than two percent annually in America and Canada.

See related coverage:

Newsweek Exposes Real Population Crisis: Mass World Depopulation
  Low Birthrates Causing European Pension Funds to Run Out



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