How is the demographic situation in Europe?

In order to ensure that the population reproduces itself in the "developed" countries, the rate of fertility must be 2.1 children per woman. This index is calculated for one determined year by adding the quotients of fertility by age. In short, it reports the number of children born during a determined year to the number of women aged 15 to 49 on January 1st of the year in question, and these partial quotients are added.

For example, for a given region, the index reports the number of children born in 1990 to the number of women 15 years old on January 1, 1990. Thus, a partial quotient is obtained, called also quotient of fertility by age or rate of partial fertility. One does the same calculation for infants born in 1990 but to women 16 years old on January 1, 1990, and on up to 49 years old. Then these quotients for the same year are all added up to obtain the synthesized fertility index for the year.

Almost everywhere in Europe, this fertility index is clearly below the level necessary for population replacement. For the European community, the data published in 1993 by Eurostat reports a fertility index that was 2.61 in 1960 and dropped to 1.51 in 1991. Ireland alone, with an index of 2.10 is assured of reproducing itself. Consider the following: According to Eurostat, the latest fertility index available gives 1.82 for the United Kingdom, 1.62 for Belgium, 1.33 for Germany, 1.33 for Spain, 1.26 for Italy. For France, Eurostat (1993) gives 1.78, but a recent study by Guy Herzlich in Le Monde of Feb. 10, 1994, reports 1.65 for the year 1993.

The drop is even more spectacular in the countries of Eastern Europe: "The number of children per woman has literally tumbled in eastern Germany: from nearly 1.6 in mid-1990 to 0.83 in 1992. But Russia has fallen in two years from 1.9 to 1.56.... Catholic Poland returned to 1.95 children per woman as has Slovakia.... In Russia since the end of 1991, the total number of deaths exceeded that of births." Only in the years 1965-1970, the synthesized fertility index in Europe had been almost everywhere above 2.1. By way of comparison, let us indicate that this index, which declined almost in all continents since 1965, was estimated at 3.3 for the whole world and 3.7 for the Third World.

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