Switzerland: Baby Boom in the Cities

In a suitable follow-up to the previous article, the report below from Schweiz am Sonntag takes a look at the recent increase in the Swiss birthrate. Many thanks to JLH for the translation:

Baby Boom in the Cities

by Yannick Nock and Fabienne Riklin
October 22, 2016

Women are having more children again. With good childcare, Switzerland could soon approach a Scandinavian situation. But men will have to re-think.

“Dying happens all the time,” runs an old folk saying. Unfortunately, children being born doesn’t. For decades, Switzerland has been struggling with a declining birthrate. Shortage of children endangers the old-age pension fund, economic growth, self-sufficiency. Now the trend seems to have changed. Last year more boys and girls were born than for 23 years. This is from the newest figures of the Federal Bureau of Statistics. 86,559 babies make a record.

Switzerland reached the nadir at the beginning of the 2000s. 1.38 births per woman was the lowest average since 1860 — the beginning of record-keeping. Since then, the birthrate has consistently improved, to the present record of 1.54.

Contributing to the baby boom have been — remarkably — troubles outside the country: financial crises, wars, terrorism. The crisis years have left their marks. “In an uncertain, fast-paced world, the family is a sort of island,” says François Höpflinger, a retired family sociologist of the University of Zurich, in identifying one of the causes. “Traditional values are on the ascendant.” Individualization, he says, has passed its apogee. “Being single has gone from being a guiding principle to being a form of misery,” he says. While motherhood, conversely, has experienced a renaissance. The increase is not due primarily to mothers having more children, but to fewer women remaining childless. The number of small families is rising.

“Expecting” in the Cities

The differences between the cantons is notable in this renaissance. Women from the twin Appenzell cantons produce distinctly more children (1.77) than those of Zurich (1.55) or Basel (1,37). That has to do, in the first place, with the traditional role-sharing in rural areas, where mothers often stay home after the birth. Secondly — especially for small family businesses — progeny are seen as the future of the firm. They are expected to take over the business one day.

Up to Two Years of Parental Leave

But urban areas are also increasing. “There is a small baby boom in the cities,” says Höpflinger. An obvious factor is demography. It is presently the daughters of the baby-boomers who are of childbearing age. There are just more women between 26 and 36 years of age. Additionally young couples today often choose to live in the city, even after they have a baby. Previously, many of them moved to the suburbs. Finally, other countries are contributing to the boom in the cities. Foreigners live more frequently in the cities, and as a rule, have more children than the Swiss. The Kosovars and Norwegians lead with an average 2.7 children.

“The Scandinavians, in particular, have taken to heart that children and profession should be reconciled — for mother and father,” says Höpflinger. In these countries, family leave is comparatively long, at up to two years. “Even if they emigrate to Switzerland, they preserve their culture of compatibility,” he says.

Höpflinger predicts that the trend to more babies will be maintained. “In family policy, we are moving in the direction of Norway, Finland and Sweden.” Accordingly, Switzerland too could reach a birthrate of 1.8 children in coming years.

The greatest potential for raising the birthrate in Switzerland is in childcare. “In this respect, Switzerland is still a developing country, compared to the progressive, northern European countries,” indicated Swiss pediatrician and author Remo Largo. The Scandinavian countries devote an average of 4% of their gross domestic product to the family. Switzerland a mere 1.6%. The result is that daycare places are expensive.

Parents here must shell out about one third of their income for a daycare spot. In European terms, that is a peak price. In most Swiss cities, a daycare place costs 150 francs per day. The result is that a part-time job for a well-educated female computer scientist or teacher only seldom pays for itself.

Men Do Too Little

But there are also other aspects than the financial that influence the desire for more children and can lead to a higher birthrate. The division of labor in the family plays a decisive role. The bulk of childcare is still heavily on the mother. “In countries with low birthrates, men usually contribute little to childcare,” says the German professor of political economics Matthias Doepke. That is especially true for Germany and Switzerland. Mothers here invest twice as much time in housework as fathers.

That explains the discrepancy between wish and reality. The two-child family is still seen by male and female Swiss as ideal. But reality — still — decrees 1.5 children per woman. According to the federation, the birthrate will continue to rise in years to come.

7 thoughts on “Switzerland: Baby Boom in the Cities

  1. ” The Kosovars and Norwegians lead with an average 2.7 children.”

    Norwegians? Ah, that will be the “Southern” Norwegians.

  2. Has anyone in government or on the street explained in fine detail the facts of life? Building more and more state of the art abortion mills may be an efficient way to end “progressive” Christian and infidel life everywhere. The west in general is living in a feminist bubble where blood curdling sharia muslimisisitis domination is seen as a solution to the “thousands and millions of years of domination by racist white males”. The “Kosovars”, Serbian Muslims that is, in Switzerlanding would of course have lots of their own sharia type solutions to take up any cash shortfall by local taxbleeders. Stop aborting and start sorting.

  3. “But men will have to re-think.”

    They already do. Writing from Sweden right now, there is an immigrant group nobody talks much about, but which keeps growing and is already very visible: Women from Thailand and the Philippines. Needs no further explanation, I suppose…

  4. Switzerland, although not an EU member, puts itself under EU rules, including free movements of people within Europe. They can pump their birthrate up somewhat by importing peoples with lower investments in raising a child, but it will cost them in the long run.

    Specifically, economic logic dictates that for families with a marginal income, the cost of an additional child may decisively weigh against having one. The most effective way of encouraging productive people to have children is to allow productive people to keep their own earnings. State redistribution schemes, in the form of state-sponsored childcare, will backfire big time. The most obvious example is that it will be exactly the low-investment, prolific immigrant/invaders who will make heaviest use of state-subsidized childcare. It’s exactly like the distribution of state education vouchers: you’ll have exclusively Muslim, sharia-based schools on the public dole.

    Another huge investment for parents is the cost of education in palatial universities. Often, certificates from these money-burning institutions are necessary to enter certain fields. It would dramatically lower the cost of having children to hire and promote based on ability and skills, rather than certificates from expensive institutions. Naturally, a merit-based employment would increase racial disparities, although genuinely-competent people of any race would not be at a disadvantage.

    It is not necessary for a country to be continually increasing in population. A country with good border controls and public policy which permits (note: not requires) selective breeding of the best, will do very well to maintain a stable population density.

    • All good points. I would add the following:
      – The cost of childcare should be completely tax-deductible. That would allow productive Swiss mothers to work and contribute to the economy. Alternatively they could be allowed to employ a nanny on a casual basis i.e. without all the overheads of employment law and taxation.
      – The reason “men do too little” is precisely because the system forces the mother to stay at home while the husband goes out to work.
      – I share the scepticism expressed above re. Kosovars & Norwegians. It is a form of madness to support immigrants on welfare in your country. Only look at Sweden to see the results. Norway & Denmark are not far behind.

    • “Naturally, a merit-based employment would increase racial disparities.” Let me explain it to you. There is a certain number of jobs which require high intelligence. Not officially but naturally. Such jobs do not make up large part of all jobs. Let us call them difficult jobs and say that they constitute 20% of all jobs. If you took 20% of most intelligent people, there would be enough people to do the work and salaries would be appropriate. What our SJW school system does: they say that it is unfair and they want everybody to have a chance. The system is based on memorizing nonsense. It requires a diploma to do the difficult jobs. Some share of the bottom 80% gets the diploma. But they will never be able to do the jobs. Out of the upper 20% many don’t get the diploma, maybe half of them. In a population of 1 000 000 suddenly 100 000 people end up doing a work for 200 000. Salaries shoot up. And the other 100 000 become competitors for bottom 800 000. Their salaries will decline. The whole income inequality is a consequence of a school and employment system.

  5. It is a gross fertility rate. While it had been around 1.5 in a past decade, the number of children per woman (net fertility rate) had been much higher. Average age by birth had risen fast. Mainly because a share of students in population has risen. It will stop one day. You can’t give a diploma to more than 100% of a population.

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