In response to decreasing birthrates, many European countries have begun to offer sexual education classes that encourage students to have babies.
Previous programs have been geared toward the prevention of pregnancies and sexually active students. However, as much of Europe rebounds from an economic crisis, high unemployment rates have caused many younger people to hold off from having children.
Italy was recently described as a “dying country” by its prime minister. Germany has had a drop in its birthrate despite increased spending on family subsidies. Meanwhile, the birthrate in Denmark has been consistently below the replacement rate needed to keep the population from dwindling since the 1970s. That rate is just two children per woman.
“For many, many years, we only talked about safe sex, how to prevent getting pregnant,” said Marianne Lomholt, the national director of Sex and Society, a nonprofit group that provides much of Denmark’s sex education. “Suddenly, we just thought, maybe we should actually also tell them about how to get pregnant.”
It is estimated that there are 28 European residents age 65 and over for every 100 people between the ages of 20 and 64. According to the United Nations, that is almost double the world average. The US comes in at 24.7%.
The European statistic is expected to double by the end of the century. The figure is expected to increase pressure on taxpayers as well as on the pension system, writes Joel Himelfarb for NewsMax.
Previous efforts to increase the birthrate in European countries have been creative, albeit not altogether effective. Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed 2008 the Year of the Family while his political party introduced tactics including a curved park bench meant to push couples closer together. Similar efforts in Singapore included a Mentos commercial featuring a rapper who toted lines including, “I’m a patriotic husband, you my patriotic wife. Lemme book into ya camp and manufacture a life.”
However, Christine Antorini, the Danish education minister, released a statement saying the country was looking for “a stronger focus on a broad and positive approach to health and sexuality, where sexual health covers both joys and risks associated with sexual behavior.”
The latest statistics show the efforts could be working. With one thousand more births reported last year than the year before, it is the first increase in the Danish birthrate in the last four years, reports Danny Hakim for The New York Times.
“I cannot say it is because of us,” Ms. Lomholt of Sex and Society said, laughing. “We have just started having a focus on it.”