Tuesday, January 30, 2007

La vie en rose

The national statistics agency says that in 2006 France had the highest birthrate in Europe, according to the William Pfaff at the IHT.

Hmmm, I thought the French had quit having babies and that was a sign of the failure of their culture. Now that it’s the highest, is that evidence of the success of their culture?

Meanwhile, Frenchwomen are more likely to work than elsewhere in Europe, but even those with advanced degrees, graduates of the so-called Grandes Écoles, who go into privileged jobs, are having large families. Ségolène Royal, the Socialist presidential candidate, with four children, is exceptional only in that she and her "companion" never married.

Never married, quel horreur! Evens the front-runner for the presidency?

He goes on to inform us that she is not that much of an exception. 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.

Unmarried couples, homosexuals, they must all be struck by lightning, or at best die of aids before they’re forty. Ummm, no. French life expectancy in 2005 was also the highest in Europe, at 84 for women and 77 for men, and it increased last year by three and a half months for women and nearly five months for men.

Plus, their life expectancy is the highest in Europe? Here? We’re only a three to six years behind. Gotta be a lot more “divorces” by those unmarrieds, gotta be. Well, no.

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.

How to explain it?

Another possible birth incentive in France, which may not be copied elsewhere, is 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.

Are American conservatives wrong about everything?