France’s “exceptional” birth rate

France’s “exceptional” birth rate

On the surface, a story on France’s exceptional birth rate, at least compared to the rest of Europe, is unadulterated good news, pun intended. But dig deeper and it may not be all that it appears. The article says that France and Ireland are the only two European countries with a replacement-level birth rate.

For one thing, we don’t know how much of that birth rate is due to immigrants. One-fifth of France’s population is now North African and/or Muslim. But the reporter cheerily tells us that France’s politically correct law forbids recording race or national origin, but she’s just sure that much of the birth rate is from native-born French because all the people she knows are having kids.

The increase in French births seems not to be disproportionately due to immigrant births, the conventional inference, but that the native-born are having more babies.

This can’t be proven by statistics since, in the name of French “égalité,” French statistics do not take account of race or national origin. But children are thick on the streets of the most prosperous quarters of Paris. The city’s fashionable Luxembourg and Monceau gardens on Sundays are full of young families with double strollers and toddlers dashing about. My children’s school friends are having three and four children—or more.

Of course, the rise in birth rates is not matched with a rise in actual marriages.

The number of marriages fell from 416,500 in 1972 to 268,100 last year, but the number of civil partnerships — a legal alliance meant originally for homosexual couples, which has proven extremely popular among heterosexuals living in concubinage — has gone from some 6,000 to over 60,000 in six years.

Birth records no longer note legitimacy of birth. A report of the National Assembly, chaired by the spokeswoman of the conservative UMP party, said that the choice between marriage and civil union seems to have no great impact on family life: which is to say that while the number of divorces is up, the civil union is not noticeably more unstable than marriage.

Government handouts and leisure time

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Domenico Bettinelli
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