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The children of the French welfare state

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 10:38 am
Drastic reforms of the European welfare state are unavoidable, say the conservative and liberal market reformers, and they insist that its not even so much a question of ideology, but one of simply facing the facts. The birth rate in Europe is ever shrinking, the baby boomers of ´45 are nearing retirement, and from thereon, the proportion between tax-paying working persons and those receiving pensions or other state benefits will simply become steadily more disadvantageous. It will simply become impossible, they say, to keep on affording a socialdemocratic welfare state.

One counterargument is that of immigration. Despite the current Europe-wide backlash against immigration, it will remain just as much a fact of life. And immigrants tend to be of working age. Some are proposing a more rational approach to immigration, saying the way to avoid the current backlash against large groups of immigrants who fail to integrate into the national labour market (or elsewhere) is not to close the borders altogether, but to implement a US style policy: embrace the identity of being an immigration country, but counterbalance asylum- and family reunifcation inflow with consciously encouraged quota of highly-educated immigrants or immigrants who are skilled in professions we have a shortage in (say, nurses).

That counterargument right now is electorally hopeless in many countries, though. But the French, of all Europeans arguably the most averse to the recipes of the free market dogmatics, are exploring other alternatives to save the welfarestate. In addition to following the example of the Scandinavian countries, where women- and parent-friendly workplace policies allow families to combine jobs for both parents and child care without having to jump through expensive or exhaustive hoops (good, affordable child care, availability of part time work, avoiding the workplace mentality where those who aren't work-aholic are given up on, career-wise), the French are going for a conscious encouragement of larger families.

This (in translation) from zesterday's SueddeutscheZeitung:

Quote:
Bébé-boom: Paris encourages the wish of many French to have three children

(..) On average, French women give birth to 1,9 children, and are outdone among EU countries in this respect only by the Irish - while the German wish for child-rearing is with an average of 1,3 children clearly in the bottom third. There are reasons for that, and Villepin and his government are eager to further encourage the French women and their partners. Three children should become the norm.

That would also be possible, if wish and reality would be easier to reconcile. On Thursday, the Prime Minister invited to the traditional family conference in his residence (..) and subsequently confirmed several new accents in French family policies. Employed mothers and fathers, who take time off after getting a third child, will henceforth receive 750 euro a month instead of 512 euro, if instead of three years they want to stay at home only for one year. Many people only want to interrupt their job for a short time, to not miss the next move. Furthermore, Villepin wants to double the tax deductions for the cost of a day-mother. Independently from all that, everybody will keep on receiving child benefits, which with three children adds up to 262 euro a month.

According to the most recent findings, 38% of French couples want three children, whereas only 15% have actually had that many. (..) 47% of the French dream of having two children. Many only start late. Just like in Germany, the average age of those giving birth to their first baby has gone up clearly, it is now just under 30 years. But despite all the difficulties, career and child wish are obviously easier to combine in Paris than Berlin (not to mention New York-nimh). French politicians, like for example Socialist deputy Ségolène Royale (four children) have no hesitations about entrusting their offspring to a nounou, a child carer.

"We have proven that the professional occupation of the woman can certainly be reconciled with a high birth rate", says Family Minister Philippe Bas (four children), "that is the French model, which I want to safeguard." While the German population grows mainly through immigration, the French childrichness is mostly thanks to their own efforts. "It takes two to get a child", concludes demograph Laurent Toulement elliptically, "but the family policies undoubtedly has its influence too." By the middle of this century France should already have overcome the German neighbours and become the largest nation of the EU. While the German population shrinks, that of France, in the estimation of Schools Minister Gilles de Robien (four children) will increase to 75 million by 2050. His six grandchildren will be able to witness it. (..)
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 11:02 am
Very interesting Nimh. Now when the social engineers have completed their research and brain storming, perhaps they will come back to the idea of the nuclear mom & pop family that has worked so well for previous generations. It was instrumental in repopulating the nation with children who were supported by at least their father's labor and who rarely needed government assistance.
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 11:13 am
Very interesting Foxfyre,

We should end the fallacy that women can have a career and fulfill their duties in childbearing. Before women ended up playing worker... they had time taking care their families and houses. Before women started taking men's jobs, families didn't require social assistance.

It all started when the social engineers gave women the vote.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 11:56 am
How long did it take to think up that straw man ebrown?
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JustWonders
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 12:09 pm
Looks like about 9 minutes Smile
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 12:11 pm
Not a strawman at all.

You were advocating a return to traditional values.

I am advocating a return to traditional values. I am merely going back a bit further than you are.

When women entering the workforce it was a real contentious issue, the affect that they would have on the family was a serious matter of debate. This was most certainly debated by conservatives as an issue of family values.

Read about the woman's sufferage issue.Why was giving women the vote opposed so rigorously by social conservatives?

Society moves on. Liberals were able win the vote for woman, and protect the rights of woman in the workplace. At each step social conservatives opposed this progress.

The effect of progress on the family has been a rallying cry of conservatives for centuries.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 12:14 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
It was instrumental in repopulating the nation with children who were supported by at least their father's labor and who rarely needed government assistance.


Government assistance is got here (= in Gemrany) for more than 120 years, in France a bit less.
Certainly it would be a good idea that a father's job is so well paid that wages are high enough for paying everything needed ... for the family and especially for the children.

When you look back in history - especiall in European history, since this thread is about the actual French situation - mostly fathers didn't earn enough, besides the belonged to the "upper 1.000".

Working men's history (women and men) is a fabulous field to study.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 12:59 pm
Yes it was a strawman eBrown because you inserted an assumption that was 100% your own.

Traditional marriage may mean barefoot, pregnant, and chained to the kitchen to you. It does not mean that to me.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to read the MANY studies showing that most poverty (i.e. those most needing government assistance) are children in single parent homes. Two parent families rarely need welfare as one can stay home with the kids---got that eBrown?--it does not necessarily have to be the woman--while the other goes to work, though the child with a full time mom at home is quite blessed. Mine didn't have that luxury--I think I have been out of work a total of 14 months since I was 16--but they also rarely needed a babysitter so that I could have a career. Even if you do have child care, two incomes makes that a lot more affordable than one.

Shared parenting also makes larger families more possible and more desirable, and there is no end to the benefits to the kids. The bottom line for me is always what is best for the children.

The U.S. and Europe and everywhere else could solve soooo many issues simply by re-establishing the traditional mom & pop family as desirable and worth the effort to accomplish.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 01:03 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to read the MANY studies showing that most poverty (i.e. those most needing government assistance) are children in single parent homes. Two parent families rarely need welfare as one can stay home with the kids---got that eBrown?--it does not necessarily have to be the woman--while the other goes to work, though the child with a full time mom at home is quite blessed.


Since I have worked on this subject during my history studies, could you please name just one single study/research proving this? Shocked

I think, such would turn all known (by me, I must admit) results of European Poverty Research upsite down.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 01:13 pm
Yes, I cited a number of them in a thread (related to gay marriage) some months ago--not the current thread going. I really don't want to dig all that up again though.

Here's the first four hits that came up on my search engine just now:

http://www.enotes.com/single-parent-families-article/

http://www.civitas.org.uk/press/prFiscal.php

http://www.poverty.smartlibrary.org/NewInterface/segment.cfm?segment=1782

http://www.heritage.org/research/features/issues2004/poverty-and-inequality.cfm
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 01:23 pm
I suggest that you read for instance «Les "gens de rien" - L'histoire de la grande pauvreté en France au XXe siècle» by André Gueslin, published at Éditions Fayard, 2004, and «Gens pauvres, pauvres gens dans la France du XIXe siècle», Collection historique, Paris, Aubier, 1998, before giving some resources re. gay marriage as background researches for the French welfare.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 01:41 pm
Walter I was not referring to any sources re gay marriage. I was referring to sources re causes of poverty. I would be very surprised if any of the links I posted even mentioned gay marriage.

The subject came up in that other discussion and I did a much more extensive online search at that time. That's the only reason I mentioned it.

Again, read carefully what I say before jumping to these conclusions of yours please.

Maybe Germany is hostile to traditional two-parent families. I don't know. In the USA, children in traditional two-parent families are far likely to need public assistance than are children in single-parent families.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 01:55 pm
I was only referring to your:
Quote:
Now when the social engineers have completed their research and brain storming, perhaps they will come back to the idea of the nuclear mom & pop family that has worked so well for previous generations. It was instrumental in repopulating the nation with children who were supported by at least their father's labor and who rarely needed government assistance.


I neither mentioned Germany (my quoted literature isn't only in French but about France) and I am referring to two parent families (we didn't have many if any in European history).
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 02:04 pm
Really? No two-parent families in France and/or Europe? Is the U.S. really that different? You didn't have a mother and father at home? One of those links I posted up there I think said France promotes two-parent families, or maybe it was Germany.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 02:13 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
Really? No two-parent families in France and/or Europe?


Sorry, I really must have mis-typed a lot above.
I wanted to write (otherwise my whole argumentation and quotation would have been completely nonsense as well as all my own research on this subject):
we didn't have many if any one parent families in European history.

Sorry - that got lost.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 02:17 pm
LOL, okay. That makes a whole lot more sense. The U.S. didn't have many one-parent families either until the cultural revolution of the 1960's coupled with massive infusion of welfare dollars about the same time. The results here have been disastrous.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 02:27 pm
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Diane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 02:41 pm
It is way too easy to be aghast at the single families here in the US. Poverty is higher as is the probability of drug use and failure in education.

There have been programs to help people become eligible for work, while paying the cost of child care and work related education. I have gone to the state legislature and written letters to the federal government about the problem. I always get very nice letters back thanking me for writing and saying that the programs are under consideration.

The problem with our welfare system and that of European countries is that all those wonderful programs that seem to be working, are tossed out whenever administrations change, especially if a different political party becomes in charge. There goes the program that seemed to have such merit.

If welfare policies are changed, they need to be given the amount of money required and enough time--in years- to see if they will be effective long term. It seldom happens. I've seen the devastating results too often. First, one part is removed because it is more expensive than anticipated. So free child care is gone. How is a single mother going to go on job interviews with three kids tagging along on the city bus?

I've seen women who might not be on welfare, but who have to work in order to get health insurance for her family. She winds up not making any take home pay--none--because of the cost of child care; but the health insurance is worth it to the parents.

With a social welfare pgogram in place as they have in Europe, the people receiving help won't become cynical of 'the system' and give up.

The problem is far too complex to be discussed in much detail on the thread like this; think of school systems paid for by each community. How will the poor comunity induce well qualified teacher if they haven't enough money to pay them a cometitive wage. Drug and alcohol treatment facilities, mental health facilities are all dependent on the whims of the current administration.

Unless there is a secure policy from one administration to the next, our welfare system will continue to founder. I realize that Europe has trouble maintaining a large enough budget to pay for all of this and that their taxes are very high compared to the US, but at least they can provide decent living conditions, even though they are very basic.

When I heard Barabara Bush say that the people in the Super Dome (?) were pretty well off, considering what they were used to. That attitude is what usually brings some tof the best social programs to a grinding halt.

Note: that example is not saying that I blame Barbara Bush for the nation's ills.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 03:57 pm
Hmmm...socially engineered?

Always a good fallback for conservatives.



I do not think the current situation was "engineered".


The pill freed women from having to have babies.

There is no way you can put the sexual revolution back in the bottle again, Fox, try as you might.


Social security benefits for single mums is an alternative to abortion and having babies adopted out, which is what happened before.

Are you advocating more abortion? A return to the good old days of kids going off to have babes in shame, never seeing them, and a steady market for would be adoptees?


Education and choice for women means falling birth rates. It is the best damn population control method in the third world, too....unless you can do as China did, and insist on only one baby.


I agree with you that single parent families are, statistically speaking, a mess. (NOT that every single parent family is a mess, though I know I will likely be accused of saying that.)

Sadly, the folk who tend to land in that situation are already, generally speaking, not doing as well as their cohort. They are the vulnerable girls. Then they get caught in the single parent trap.

If I had my druthers, every damned kid would have to apply to a committee of infallibly wise elders before their baby making ability was turned on! There woukd be no chidren for which peope were not ready. (Of course, this would mean a number of our most treasured historical figures would never have been born, were this method to have obtained previously, but still!)

However, adoption et al are no damn picnic either. There IS no "good" solution to pregnancies for which people are not ready.


If we are gona try and address this cycle, lots of really good very early intervention with parents and babes seems to be the best bang for the buck, in terms of not perpetuating generations of single parent families.

Sadly, they won't all tie a knot in it, despite lots of birth control info etc. The vulnerable are besieged by hormones at a time when their brains are in such a state of flux, that...well. AND they tend to be the needy ones, who end up with the irresponsible anti social boys....or the girls are so needy and emotionally immature that they think, goddess help them, that a baby is the answer for their search for nurture and unconditional positive regard...(as I said earlier, I speak statistically, this is not about all single parents)

Really good parenting seems to be the best protection against unwanted pregnancies.

What social engineering, exactly, did you want to reverse here, Fox? What do you think you CAN reverse?

Certainly, good support for single mums getting back into the workforce, but NOT having to work three jobs and never be home (which is a clear recipe for the next generation of single parent families) and expectations on the dads that, if you sire, you pay (as is happening here big time, not always for the better, but still) is important. Are you saying that isn't happening where you are?




As for the better work place care of parents, right on.

Seems to me a good trend, to allow for flexible work arrangements, where possible etc. so that having kids isn't a career killer for the woman, or the odd man who is the one to care for kids.
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 04:39 pm
Foxy,

If the issue really is two-parent families that you would in favor of homosexual marriages, right?

Friends of mine have been raising a little girl. They recently had a marriage ceremony to form a legally supported two parent family.

Is this what you are talking about?
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