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How Parenthood Lost Its Charm — Europe’s Collapsing Birthrate

From London, The Guardian reports that Europe’s collapsing birthrate is finally getting the attention of government leaders. Germany, with the continent’s lowest birthrate, is now trying to persuade individuals to have more children, offering financial benefits.

Nevertheless, the real problem is something government cannot solve — a tragic resistance to children on the part of citizens.

Consider this section of the paper’s report:

Standing in Magdeburg’s maternity clinic, Hubertus Schulz contemplated his empty delivery suite. In one corner, a fluffy stork with a red beak adorned a baby-less incubator. “I’d like to have a bit more to do, to be honest,” Dr Schulz, the clinic’s chief doctor, said. “I’ve been working here for 25 years. We used to be full of babies. Now this is rarely the case.”

During communist times, the clinic in the east German city of Magdeburg used to deliver around 2,500 babies a year. The number has fallen to 880. Together with Chemnitz, also in the former East Germany, Magdeburg has the lowest birthrate of any European city. For every 1,000 inhabitants, just over seven babies are born a year. What had gone wrong? “The problem is that some people have become less tolerant of children. They see them as loud, stressful and a bit of a pain,” Dr Schulz said. “They’d rather have a cat or a dog.”

As Lutz Truemper, mayor of Magdeburg, explained, “Having children just doesn’t seem to fit with modern lifestyles.”  That just about says it all.