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Birth Rate In European Countries Increases

Armen Hareyan's picture

Birth Rate In European Countries

The birth rate in at least 16 European countries slightly increased from 2004 to 2006 after a 20-year decline, USA Today reports. According to USA Today,the increases are slight, but they reverse a 20-year decline that hadofficials "sounding alarms" about not having enough children toreplenish the population and sustain economic growth.

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TheEuropean Commission last year said that declining birth rates couldreduce the number of working-age Europeans by 20 million annuallyduring the next 15 years. In response, countries with low ratesincreasingly have begun providing more generous payouts. Spain lastmonth approved payments of $3,400 for every new child; France paysworking parents about $1,000 per month to stay at home and raise athird infant; and Germany this year began Elterngeld, a program that offers new parents 67% of their salaries for a year to stay home with infants, USA Today reports.

Scandinaviancountries, which have some of the highest birth rates in Europe, giveup to 18 months of parental leave and no-cost subsidized child care, aswell as paying working mothers to take time off. Germany, Scotland andFrance recently have reported slight increases in birth rates,according to USA Today. Birth rates in Spain and Portugal are relatively stagnant, and rates in the Netherlands, Norway and Austria have dropped.

William Butz, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Population Reference Bureau,questioned the increasing rates. "Something is going on," Butz said,adding, "The uptick is real, but we don't know what is causing it orwhether it will last" (Stinson, USA Today, 8/17).

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