The secular globalism predominating in Western Europe’s politics and culture has drastic effects, not least on families.
We are taught to see ourselves as individual world citizens devoid of allegiance to nation, culture or family. The family itself is reduced to a mere lifestyle choice, that choice taking increasingly diverse shapes, many of them requiring direct support from the state. Every nation following a secular globalist trajectory has low and falling fertility rates averaging around 1.5 children per mother, far below replacement level of 2.1.
Over the decades the traditional family structure has been sidelined. Support for the married couple with children as the best way of ensuring good outcomes for society is portrayed as a vicious attack demonising single mothers, homosexual couples and the wonderful diversity of lifestyle enriching our society.
We are also assured that family-friendly policies supporting the traditional family don’t work and should not be a matter of political meddling. The Labour Party takes a firm stand against any attempt to legislate for the promotion of marriage. ‘Marriage is a personal and private decision for responsible adults, with which politicians should not interfere.’
It is a truth known by all but acknowledged by few that the prospects for children born and raised outwith normal family structures are poor. They have poorer educational outcomes, are more likely to be imprisoned and experience physical and sexual abuse on a greater level than other children. Unfortunately, it is also a truism that progressives are impervious to facts: feelings are so much more important.
Political parties attempt to find policies to compensate for the real disadvantages facing children from non-traditional families. However, the advantages of traditional marriage for the wellbeing of children can’t be replicated except through policies that strengthen traditional marriage.
Helping unmarried parents increase their incomes, spend more time with their children, find better child care etc, would hopefully benefit children. Unfortunately they are likely to be, at best, only partial substitutes for marriage itself. But never mind the children, think of the progressive globalist project.
An Economist article recently assured us that Europe’s population is declining and we therefore need more immigrants to pay for our welfare state, ensure our pensions are paid, empty bedpans, and generally make up for the consequences of demographic decline. Without ever more immigrants our tax base will decline, there will be decreased revenue, and as a result hospitals and schools will become worse than they already are. Only mass immigration can solve the problem.
The Economist, like all secular globalist outlets, gave no consideration to another solution to demographic decline and its attendant problems. It is possible to strengthen traditional marriage and see an increase in the fertility rate, thus avoiding a dependence on mass immigration.
Despite the ideological assertions of progressives that family-friendly policies have little or no impact on population growth, data is emerging illustrating the opposite. In those European countries taking a consciously Christian direction in their family programmes there is significant growth in fertility rates.
Hungary’s controversial new constitution, which includes a strong commitment to preserving the Christian identity, historic heritage, and community values of the nation, states that: ‘Hungary shall protect the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman . . . and the family as the basis of the nation’s survival. Hungary shall encourage the commitment to have children. The protection of families shall be regulated by a cardinal Act.’
Hungary is winding back the clock on much of the fertility and family-structure change that demographers have long considered inevitable, and the cause of problems which could be solved only by mass immigration.
Practical legislation designed to revitalise the traditional family has been introduced. In 2015 the Hungarian government initiated a Family Housing Support Programme. As well as cutting VAT on new houses from 27 to 5 percent this gives married couples generous subsidies to buy or build new homes based on how many children they have.
Basically, it is possible to qualify for major benefits with two children, and even greater benefits with more. These benefits, including a US$36,000 grant and a US$36,000 loan with a very small interest burden, are seen as very generous indeed in a country where the average monthly wage is US$500.
Other practical measures have been introduced over the last few years. These include tax exemptions for children and the reduction and cancellation of student debts for mothers of two or more children.
From around 2012 women in Hungary became more likely to get married. The rise in the age of first marriage, which has been inexorable in other European countries, has stalled and looks as though it is beginning to fall.
Hungary has experienced a turnaround in population statistics. The total fertility rate, which reached a low in 2010, has now risen significantly and is gradually approaching the 2.1 children per couple replacement level. In continued pursuit of its family-friendly policies the Hungarian government aims to make child support programmes reach 5 per cent of GDP in order to reach replacement population level.
Hungary is no outlier. Poland had an alarming demographic decline which was addressed and reversed by policies promoting the family. Child poverty has been virtually eradicated in Poland with generous child allowances, leading to an impact on fertility rates. Poland still has a long way to go to reach replacement levels, but is now moving in the right direction. In 2015 it was in 20th place in repopulation statistics for Europe. Today it is fourth, just behind Hungary which is third.
Positive change can happen through the promotion of the traditional family. What is required are people and leaders willing to see country as more than an economic unit and as a culture and tradition worth preserving.