NEWS

People still get married but the kids are optional

People are more likely to get married in Greece than in other European Union member states, but are not having as many children, according to data presented at the annual conference of the European Family Watch. Greece – along with Italy and Spain – is a paradoxical case, as it has the highest percentage of marriages, a low divorce rate and the lowest percentage of unwed couples living together and having children. However, it also has one of the lowest fertility rates (1.3 in 1999). Given that the population replacement rate is 2.1 children per woman of childbearing age, the explanation for this phenomenon is that Greeks are getting married later. Even if the model of the nuclear family of two parents and two children is still the prevailing one in Greek society, Greeks appear to want more children, according to a survey published in 2000 by the National Center for Social Research (EKKE). «The average number of children people want in their families (2.3) has remained stable since 1983,» EKKE researcher Hari Symeonidou told Kathimerini. Yet 2.7 is considered the ideal number, circumstances permitting. Analysis of the data in the final phase of the survey is not encouraging for the future of the nuclear family. Younger women tend to prefer smaller families. The number of women with no children has increased (19 percent of women aged 30-34 have no children), and the 34.5 percent with one child do not want another. Although more women are now working, Symeonidou said it was a myth that working reduced the number of children women had. «Often the opposite applies,» she said, referring to Scandinavian countries where the word ‘housewife’ is now out of use and yet the birth rate is much higher than in Greece. Although Greek couples are not having as many children as they want, nevertheless related consumer costs have gone up by 22 percent in the past 10 years, according to the National Statistics Service’s latest family budget survey. The standard of living has also gone up – the number of families with a second home has risen from 10 to 14.5 percent. «Family and Aging» is this year’s theme for the United Nations’ World Family Day. «Humanity is experiencing an unprecedented demographic transformation,» writes UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his message, adding that, by 2050, the number of elderly people will have increased from the current 600 million to 2 billion. He said the aged are losing their traditional family support system due to the movement of populations and urged member states to assist families by providing support networks.