Massive Changes Needed in EU Family Policy to Avoid Demographic “Catastrophe”: Report
By Hilary White
ROME, November 16, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The news about abortion, marriage, divorce and the birth rate in Europe is bad and only getting worse, a report recently presented to the EU said.
According to the report by the Institute for Family Policies abortion rates in Britain have leaped by a third among unmarried teenage girls and abortion is helping to age the population of Europe. Without a massive shift to family-friendly policies, the pattern of increased abortion and increasingly aging population will inevitably lead to the collapse of social welfare benefits, and, ultimately, to the bankruptcy of Europe's cradle-to-grave socialist welfare state.
Presented to the European Parliament on Wednesday, the report said that the situation of the family in Europe is "a desolate panorama."
"Europe is plunged in an unprecedented demographic winter and has become an elderly continent, with a large birth deficit, fewer marriages and more of them broken, homes emptying."
"The aging population, critical birth-rate, escalating abortions, the collapse of marriage, the explosion in family breakups and the emptying of homes are the main problems of Europeans," the 2009 Report on the Evolution of the Family in Europe said.
The study found that the annual number of abortions in the EU equals the entire combined population of its ten smallest member states, with the three top aborting countries being Britain, France and Romania. In Europe there is one abortion every 25 seconds, for a total of more than 1,200,000 abortions a year. 19 percent of all European pregnancies end in abortion and 28 million children have been killed by abortion since 1990, making abortion the main cause of death in Europe.
The population over 65 years in all European states already exceeds the population under 14 years. The EU under 14 population has fallen from 89 million in 1993 to 78.4 million in 2008. Over-65s have risen from 68.3 million in 1993 to 84.9 million in 2008 - an increase of 16.5 million elderly people. The average age of EU citizens is 40.3 years, with Italy and Germany having the highest populations of elderly people.
The dropping European birth rate, the report says, with its concomitant increasing health and pension costs, will lead to increases in public expenditure to care for the aging population and the eventual collapse of public revenues, leading finally to the bankruptcy of the welfare state. The average birth rate of EU countries is now 1.38 per woman, well below the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman, even in relatively fertile countries like France.
Without a significant shift in family policies in all EU countries, the report predicts the result will be "catastrophic." Starting in 2010, the population of Europe overall will begin to fall from 499 million to 472 million by 2050 and every third inhabitant will be over 65.
According to the study, Britain is the "abortion capital of Europe" with rates that last year pulled ahead of France. Its abortion rate is fifth in the world, behind Russia, the U.S., India and Japan. Among these countries, Britain can least afford such a high rate, with a population less than half that of Russia and Japan, a fifth that of the US, and 1/19 that of India. The median age of women in Britain is also rising, at 41.3 years, making recovery even more difficult.
The population of the 27 EU nations reached 500 million last year with most increases in population (78 per cent) attributable to immigration, not births. The natural increase of Europe's population is 12 times lower than the US. Spain has immigration 9 times greater than its internal birth increase and Italy's native population fell (-0.14 million) and had 23 times more immigrants than births (+3.28 million). Poland, Romania and Bulgaria are losing citizens by emigration and Lithuania, Latvia, Romania and Bulgaria have falling populations due to low immigration rates.
Only France, Holland, Finland and Slovakia have internal rates of population increase higher than their immigration figures.
Other indicators show the number of marriages, especially first marriages, is down and divorce rates are up. There are 1 in 4 fewer marriages than in 1980 and the marriage rate has fallen in 9 out 10 countries. One out of every 3 children (36.5 per cent) is born outside marriage. In some countries the fall in marriage rate has been around 50 per cent since 1983 and there are over one million divorces a year, the equivalent to one marital breakdown every 30 seconds.
More people (55 million) are living alone than ever before. One in four households in Europe has a single dweller and two out of three households have no children. Of the households with children, 50 per cent have only one child.
The report recommends the creation of a European Union ministry of the family, laws to increase flexibility of working hours to accommodate families, increases in tax benefits for families and an emphasis on family welfare programs over welfare for individuals.
It calls for governments to recognize the rights of families, including the right of parents to reconcile work and family life; to have the number of children they want; to choose the type of education their children receive and the right of children to live in a stable home.