Family Policy, German Style

// 30 May 2007

Germany’s family minister, Ursula von der Leyen, is aiming to increase nursery places in Germany to 750,000, to cover a third of Germany’s under threes. The aim is to make it easier for mothers to work, and to encourage them to have more children. Germany has the lowest birth rate in what the Economist terms “rich Europe”, at 1.3 children per woman, and the birth rate is particularly low among professional women. Apparently spending on family policy compares badly to many countries in the European Union, but von der Leyen’s proposals are not without controversy.

Walter Mixa, a Catholic bishop, has argued that it would degrade women to “birthing machines,” and the Economist makes the point that Germany has a “troubled relationship” with family policy, largely because, as Leonie Herwartz-Emden of Augsburg University told their writer, because the word “motherhood” is “loaded because of the Nazis’ glorification of child-bearing.”

Elsewhere in the same weeks edition of the Economist, there’s a thorough and even handed profile of Rudy Giuliani and his bid to become President.

Plus a scientific report on a study concerning rape in the bird world, that I won’t even attempt to go into here, as it would require getting too technical too fast.

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