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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Israel's family values

This article has nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with why those of you who don't yet live in Israel should consider making aliya. Saul Singer will tell you why:
In Israel, kids are "in." They are even a status symbol. "If everyone has a Jeep, we will have one too; if everyone fills it with children they have brought into the world, why shouldn't we do the same?" This is how a feature in Haaretz by Galit Edut (September 1) describes the reigning societal norm among educated, double-income, secular Israelis.

In virtually the entire modern world, increased wealth and education are linked with plummeting birthrates. The New York Times reported this week that Europe is "wrestling" with birthrates which have "reached a historic and prolonged low... straining pension plans and depleting the work force across the continent." The EU projects a shortfall of 20 million workers by 2030. In 1990, no European country had a fertility rate of less than 1.3 children per woman; by 2002, 15 countries did. The "birth dearth" has become a political issue in Germany, Russia and the Czech Republic. "Almost all countries are increasing baby bonuses," the article reports.
While the US fertility rate currently hovers around the replacement level of 2.1, the rate among American Jews is considerably lower: 1.86.

Israel is almost another world. The average fertility rate is 2.7 children per woman - by far the highest of any modern democracy in the world. Moreover, the average size of families with a high monthly income - above NIS 50,000 - is 4.3 people, compared to 3.7 for families with more modest salaries.

What's going on here?
Read the whole thing.


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