Thanks to Doug La Follette for this article.
Getting a better deal for mothers has been at the forefront of the feminist agenda for decades, although you’d never know it from the way the women’s movement is always being accused of attacking women with kids. So it’s ironic that what is finally driving at least some governments to act is the desire to boost fertility rates.
The aim is to breed the next generation of workers — ethnically correct workers, too, not the troublesome immigrant kind. As Sharon Lerner noted in The New York Times Magazine (“The Motherhood Experiment,” March 4), fertility rates — the average number of children per woman — have fallen below replacement level in ninety countries, including such Catholic stalwarts as Ireland (1.9), Spain (1.3), Italy (1.3) and Portugal (1.4). Even the much-trumpeted increasing US population is mostly a product of immigration (the actual fertility rate is 2.0). While politicians in Japan (1.3) seem fatally drawn to chastising women as recalcitrant “baby-making machines,” European governments have started asking if making life easier for working mothers might do the trick.
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