France likes to cultivate “exceptions” which distinguish it or, better, set it up as a model. For a long time, demography was one of those exceptions. Our country, unlike its European neighbors, recorded a number of births which did more than ensure the renewal of generations. The difference is now diminishing from year to year, and the statistics which will be published on Tuesday by INSEE will probably confirm the decline. Families exceeding the number of two children are becoming increasingly rare.
We can regret this development for a variety of reasons. There are those who are concerned about the weight of the country, which is measured primarily by the size of its population. Others see it as an unfavorable element in terms of economic dynamism, or are worried about the lack of confidence in the future which French couples would thus testify. In any case, if we dare say, we miss the missing children. We are deprived of their joy, their ingenuity, their energy, their appetite for life. The weight of years, for older generations, is all the heavier.
Whose fault is it ? Government decisions in this area are strongly criticized by family associations, for example the means-tested setting of family allowances. But this is not the main reason for the decline in births. We must also consider other subjects. Are companies, in the organization of work, attentive enough to family imperatives? Do fathers now take their full part in parental tasks? It is the whole family organization of French society that deserves to be rethought.