The International Herald Tribune reports today that birth rates are up in France. The average number of births per woman of fertile age is now slightly more than two--whereas it is less than two in most of the rest of Europe. Many speculate that the reason for the increase has to do with immigration; i.e., the new babies are coming from new immigrants. The article disputes this--but admits that there is no reliable hard data to examine because France does not allow for the the inclusion of race or national origin in its official statistics.
On the other hand, while childbearing becomes more common it seems marriage is not. Many French heterosexuals are taking advantage of "civil union" arrangements, meant originally to meet the demands of homosexuals. These unions are up while marriages are down.
The article speculates that there are two big reasons for the increase: (1) generous maternity leave laws and (2) ". . , its 35-hour workweek. It has been suggested that the French have so much leisure now that they have found nothing more interesting to do with it than have babies, combining fun with demographic patriotism."
Weird. Scholars have often observed that one reason people used to have so many kids was because life was hard and many people were needed to do the work of the family. Industrialization made big families less necessary and, in fact, more expensive. But now we are asked to consider that there is so little work to do in France that people need to have more kids with whom to enjoy their many hours of leisure? I suggest these parents make the most of that leisure and create loads of good memories for their young bundles of joy. Those kids are going to have to live off of those memories when they grow up to toil on behalf of their aging socialist elders.