President Macron had called for a “demographic rearmament” on platform X: France needs more babies. A young Frenchwoman responded with this viral post: “We have no money. We have no property. We have no childcare. We come home from work at 7 PM. Do you understand?”
In France, in 2023, around 7% fewer children were born than in 2022 and nearly 20% fewer than in 2010. The lack of offspring is a topic of heated debate in public.
For a long time, the birth rate in France was higher than in most other European countries. This is also because childcare options are comparatively good for both young and school-aged children, and the government provides a range of financial assistance, especially for large families. Full-day childcare is not as questioned in France as it is in some other places, according to ZEIT, and French mothers feel less guilty about it than German mothers. However, these conditions apparently no longer determine the decision for or against having children.
Because despite the advanced childcare system, most household and childcare tasks are still handled by women, says sociologist Hervé Le Bras. They are no longer willing to bear the double burden. For him, progressive family policy would mean relieving women.
Immigration could also compensate for the decline in birth rates. However, the government is currently pursuing a policy that limits migration significantly.
Feminists criticize the president’s call for more children for its “military rhetoric.” His statements show a willingness to “re-instrumentalize” women’s bodies. Under the guise of a “national duty,” women should not be made to feel guilty if they choose to remain childless.
Green Party leader Marine Tondelier points out other reasons for the decision to remain childless, such as fear of the future due to the climate crisis and environmental destruction – whose consequences also lead to increased infertility. Poverty and housing shortages also play a role, which Macron should focus more on combating.
Fortunately, the government is now planning to introduce free fertility examinations and improvements to parental leave.
The outburst of the Frenchwoman on X is reminiscent of the one that recently appeared in the taz newspaper under the headline: “Charming Burnout: Women are supposed to solve the skilled labor shortage, have more children, and care for them. Anything else?” See the highly regarded article by herCAREER, linked below in the comment.