Social scientists strive to find the reasons why Spain has birth rates well below the EU average (EU) and why the percentage of mothers who have their first and only child from 40 years of age is only exceeded by that of Italy. An answer, full of well-articulated data by a score of experts, is in the 'Spain Report 2018', prepared by the José María Martín Patino Chair of the Culture of the Encounter, before the Encuentro Foundation. It was presented on Tuesday morning at a long breakfast sponsored by the University of Comillas and the Areces Foundation.
"The very low Spanish fertility – barely 1.3 children per woman – is not an inevitable consequence of economic development; of the increase in the level of education and female labor participation, or changes in family structures and relationships, but is linked to the increasing job insecurity of young (and not so young), the scarce public support for the responsibilities of upbringing of children under three, difficulties in reconciling work, personal and family life throughout the course of life, and persistent gender inequality in care work ", summarized Agustín Blanco, a collaborator of Martín Parito for decades and his replacement in the direction of the foundation that now bears the name of who was the closest collaborator of Cardinal Tarancón in the 70s of the last century. "We have to be aware that a job low cost will lead us to a society low cost"He added.
The Spain Report has been analyzing social reality for 25 years and is a reference to know how the country has changed. This time he is studying four fundamental challenges: employment, demography, territorial challenge and the environment, with a brief analysis of the galloping secularization of society, especially from the point of view of Catholicism. "Among the European countries only Germany, Greece, Slovenia and Sweden show higher levels of secularization," he concludes.
The chapter in which the birth situation is analyzed and the distance between the desired fertility and actual fertility suggests the existence of important barriers that impede people make your reproductive wishes come true. It has been carried out by four women of the highest scientific level, among others Teresa Castro Martín, a doctor in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin (USA), who worked at the United Nations Population Division in New York and is now a professor at the Higher Center of Scientific Investigations (CSIC).
"In 1980, Spanish women had their first child, on average, at age 25. In 2016, the average age of first motherhood approaches 31 years. Of the total births that took place this past year, more than 30% corresponded to women aged 35 or older and almost 7% to women aged 40 or older, "they write.
This tendency to have the first child at increasingly late ages is by no means exclusive to women. In 1980, the average age of first-time parents was slightly higher than 30 years. In 2016, it amounted to 34.2 years. Of these first-time parents, 47% had reached or exceeded 35 years, and 17% were 40 or older.
The postponement of the first child began to occur among women with a higher educational level and greater income potential. Even today it is the women with university studies who present an average age at the first later birth (33.8 years in 2016), but the delay of motherhood has already been generalized to all social strata, with the sole exception of women that only have primary studies, a relatively small and socially vulnerable group. The challenge of the birth rate is related to that of employment. More than half of the new hires lasted between one and 15 days and only 7% exceeded the year.
The report also extends the challenge of integrating the Second generation immigrants. The data is overwhelming. The foreign population in 1993 did not reach half a million people (1.1% of the total population, the lowest percentage of the OECD and the EU) and two out of every three came from countries of the EU and Latin America. North. In 2017, more than six million residents in Spain were born in another country (13% of the total population, the highest in the EU after Sweden) and more than half a million were the so-called second-generation immigrants, born in Spain from immigrant parents. By the way, in 1996, only 4.7% of all marriages celebrated in Spain included a foreign spouse. In 2007, this percentage had risen to 17.4%. In 2017 it was 14%.
The hostile to immigration is advised to study the case of Argentina, a country that in the mid-nineteenth century barely reached two million inhabitants. Their leaders presumed to have the same income per capita as the United States, but they were aware of the traffic jam they could not get out of: the density of inhabitants per square kilometer. "Governing is to populate", was the challenge made to them by President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, in office from 1868 to 1874. His theory was that Argentina should reach at least half of the US inhabitants in a decade, then only 31, 4 million (today it is 325.7 million). To do this, it was necessary to attract foreigners and distribute them throughout the immense country, handing over land, facilitating settlements and iron roads and relaxing entry spaces for Spaniards, Germans, Poles, Irish, Italians or Arabs. They threw him out in a bad way and had to go into exile, proscribed by the dictatorship Rosista. Today, Argentina has fewer inhabitants than Spain (44.27 million against 46.57), despite quadrupling the size (2.77 million square kilometers compared to 505,990 in Spain).
It was Miguel de Unamuno who in 1929 regretted the mistreatment of Sarmiento and recalled that "to govern is to populate", when nothing was already remedied. He did it in an article in the newspaper La Nación, in Buenos Aires. "Not only was Sarmiento a great ruler but also the most profoundly Castilian writer we have had in the last century." It referred to 'Facundo', a must-read novel, and to the biography of Abraham Linconl published by Sarmiento in Chile with the title 'Life of Abraham Lincoln, Seventeenth President of the United States'.