By Arnold Kling
Another Milken Institute Review article is on aging Europe. I am pretty familiar with the low birth rate and its implications for the size and age distribution of Europe’s population. However, this was news to me:
few Americans seem aware of just how rapidly the functional definition of the family is changing in modern Europe…the odds of a woman’s being married and staying married to age 50 are only about 40 percent in staid Portugal, under 22 percent in bourgeois Belgium, and as low as 20 percent in some of the old Communist bloc countries.
By the same token, out-of-wedlock births are increasingly common. Whereas nearly one-in-three American babies is an extramarital birth, the corresponding fraction in Britain is over two-fifths…More than a quarter of Portugal’s babies are born to unmarried women, while in Austria, Ireland and Hungary the share is now above 30 percent, and in France the figure is just under 44 percent. The corresponding number for America’s non-Hispanic whites is about 23 percent.
For Discussion. What economic factors might account for the breakdown of the traditional family?