Spain

Welcoming and birth rate, two cultural challenges

Omnes-February 5, 2018-Reading time: 3 minutes

The hypothesis of connecting rural depopulation with immigrants requires a brief reflection. The birth rate persists at historic lows.

-text Rafael Miner

In the second decade of the 21st century, Spain is facing two fears that constitute cultural challenges of the first order: fear of the other, especially the foreigner, and the refusal to have children. They could be synthesized into one: a certain mentality of refusal to welcome new human beings. Naturally, these fears affect the whole of the Western world, with slight exceptions.

The attitude of reserve towards immigrants, especially from Islamic countries, has obviously been influenced by international jihadism. But another preventive component is a certain xenophobia towards those who would break the status of a reasonable welfare state in terms of health, education and public subsidies.

This attitude is beginning to calm down in Spain, after a few years of strong rejection, according to the study. Social perception of migrations in Spainpublished by the Savings Banks Foundation. The continuous messages of Pope Francis and the whole Church are gradually taking hold. The family, moreover, has become in recent years the social network par excellence, to help both unemployed children or grandchildren and people of other nationalities, who have begun to provide services where nationals do not reach, among other reasons because there are no new generations with available arms. We should be grateful to so many immigrants who perform jobs that are not always well paid. Because the birth deficit in Spain is accentuated.

Last year, the average number of children per woman in Spain was 1.33 (generational replacement is at 2.1), and the average age of motherhood also reached an all-time high of 32 years.

Debate

Naturally, there are several factors that explain this trend. There is often talk of crisis, unemployment, economic difficulties, low salaries, etc. These are objective facts, although there is no proven direct relationship between a country's per capita income and birth rate. Quite the contrary. There are many so-called third world countries whose birth rate is much higher than that of developed nations.

In addition, there are also cultural and even moral reasons that shape the anti-birth mentality. Pope Francis has been referring for some time to the fruitfulness of love: "The spouses, while giving to each other, give beyond themselves the reality of the child, a living reflection of their love, a permanent sign of conjugal unity, and living synthesisand inseparable from the father and the mother". (Amoris Laetitia, n. 165). He adds: "Each new life allows us to discover the most gratuitous dimension of love, which never ceases to surprise us. It is the beauty of being loved before: children are loved before they arrive." (AL, n. 165). The drama of abortion, more than 94,000 in 2015, is a further symptom of this antinatalist culture.

A society without children?

The consequences of blinding the birth rate are important, both in the family sphere, as well as in the social and economic spheres. Alejandro Macarrón, director of Demographic Renaissance, has underlined this these days: "If we continue with such a low birth rate, Spain will disappear. I put it in conditional because there is not enough time, but it is pure mathematics. It is not debatable. Another thing is that we react. Extinction would take centuries, but before that we would live in a childless, unbalanced society".

Depopulation undoubtedly has economic components. At the moment, it seems that there has been a certain conformism that immigration will maintain demographics.

As has already happened in some European countries, such as Germany and Italy, the Spanish government is aware of the data and wants to promote the birth rate, and in February it approved a media advertising campaign.

Some organizations, such as the Foro Español de la Familia, have pointed out that "it is a good initiative because it helps to create a culture favorable to motherhood, but it should not be the only one. We must ask the government to take the next step: to provide more support to families."

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