Demographic storm coming to India

Over dinner a few days ago, we got talking to an Austrian couple who were astonished how it was that the wife and I had managed to get to Finland for a holiday (the grandparents, in India, are babysitting). "We think our life is complicated," he said, "it seems that it is much harder with children."  Apparently, this preponderance to see the inconveniences rather than the wonders of having children is very common in Germany and Austria -- more than a third of women there say they want to have no children.

But it seems that Germany and Austria are an exception. Less than 4% of Italian women want no children. Yet, the birthrate of Italy is the among the lowest in Europe. Mostly, the low birthrates across Europe (the population of many countries will be half of today's in 45 years) have to do with what men do:

In other words, working mothers are having more babies than stay-at-home moms ... women who do more than 75 percent of the housework and child care are less likely to want to have another child than women whose husbands or partners share the load. Put differently, Dutch fathers change more diapers, pick up more kids after soccer practice and clean up the living room more often than Italian fathers; therefore, relative to the population, there are more Dutch babies than Italian babies being born. As Mencarini said, "It's about how much the man participates in child care."

Extrapolating brazenly from our circle of friends in Norman (those who have kids), there's quite a discrepancy between the ones of Indian origin and ones that are not. Among the non-Indian friends, it's very common for the fathers to cook at home or to bring the kids to a park. In fact, it would be downright unacceptable, socially, for them to do otherwise.  This social disapproval of uninvolved fathers is simply not there among the Indian families -- it's quite common to see the mothers take care of everything related to housework and kids.  What I saw among the younger generation in India was no better. It seemed to blow peoples' minds that our kids would be fine without their mother for a month.  "But I'm here," I would say.  They would simply shake their heads. There are some things, they would say, that a father simply can not do.  They didn't have breast feeding in mind -- our kids are well past that stage -- so I have no idea what they meant.

Which is all just a long way of saying that India may be worried about a growing population now, but unless Indians modernize their views of parenting, there's a demographic storm coming to India too.  Korea with a birthrate of 1.1 lies ahead.

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