Thursday, September 15, 2016

Italy's 'Fertility Day' Ads Anger Women Stymied by Lack of Support

New York Times (Sept. 13, 2016): Italy's 'Fertility Day' Ads Anger Women Stymied by Lack of Support, by Gaia Pianigiani:

Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. The declining birthrate has led to fears that as the population ages, there will be insufficient people in the workforce.  A recent government sponsored campaign to promote Sept. 22 as "Fertility Day" has led to anger because of its failure to address the lack of government and employer support for families. One woman remarked " The government encourages us to have babies, and then the main welfare system in Italy is still the grandparents."

The Italian family size has been shrinking for some time, but also coincides with the recent economic slowdown.  Many women fear that their jobs will be in jeopardy if they have children.  Although France also has suffered from a bad economy, it has  far more generous social security programs, including day care and subsidies for families with children.  In France women have an average of two children. In Italy, the birth rate is 1.37.

Italy's current government has tried to help families, instituting a baby bonus of 80 to 160 euros for low and middle income families and approving labor laws that give more flexibility on parental leave, but Italy's allocation of 1 percent of its GDP on social protection benefits is still half the European average.

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