Germany has continually witnessed a decline in its birth rate over the last half of the 20th century and current forecasts are the current 82 million German population will decline to about 69 milion by 2006. The current birthrate is 1.43 children per woman, slightly up form 1.33 the year before, but distant from the necessary 2.1 number that ensures maintenance and growth in population. An economic problem that will arise unless there is a significant rise in population is support for the social security system which will lack people paying in during the coming decades. Uusula der Leyen, Family Minister, believes an important aspect of dealing with the demographic crisis in persuading women to have more children.
Under new legislation, the government will pay the parent who remains home with the child up to 67% of their current income with a maximum of $2,810 per month for up to a year. Another facet of the new program is tripling the number of day care centers in order to assist women who must work. Many conservatives support paying women to remain at home but object to day care centers as encouraging women not to remain with the child.
Ironically, as Germans have fewer babies, German society needs more immigrants.
An historic shift has already begun with over a 120,000 Chinese students this past year heading for education in European universities rather than take the more familiar route to the United States. The Patriot Act, and other restrictions caused by America’s fear of terrorism, have made the United States a less desirable destination for young Chinese students seeking higher education. The European Union launched a “Erasmus Mundes” program in 2004 which will have granted $327 million in grants to foreign students by 2009 in order to get them to attend EU institutions. Jan Figel, EU commissioner of Education notes: “When people speak of education,especially higher education, they often think of the US. But actually, universities in the EU are overall, the most attractive because they have a diversity of cultures and teaching methods.” The European Union this week will institute a “fast track” program enabling highly educated immigrants to quickly obtain a “blue card” allowing them to work in the European Union and bring their families. Any student who obtains a B.A. from a EU University will immediately be eligible for a blue card which guarantees all rights such as medical insurance as those held by EU nationals.
Lost in the fears caused by the Patriot Act and the Bush fear program about foreigners is a significant shift in world affairs. America increasingly is becoming more difficult to enter and a less desirable place for highly educated people. The United States for half a century was able to attract and keep hundreds of thousands of skilled workers, but this advantage is slipping away. This is another legacy of the Bush program to create fear in America, but, unfortunately, the fear program is keeping out skilled individuals needed by modern economies.
Posted in China, Education, Europe, Multicultural, Politics, United States, US Foreign Policy, World News
Tagged EU, Higher Education, immigrants, skilled workers, universities
Recent polls indicate nearly half of Swedes oppose Muslim women wearing headscarves. In 2005, 43% of Swedes rejected the idea of Muslim women being allowed to wear headscarves in public places like schools or government buildings, today, that figure is 49.8% of respondents. The questionnaire used the word “sloja” which literally means “veil” but apparently most Swedes use the word in referring to any form of head covering. Ironically, only 5% indicated they had negative views toward foreigners although about one-third believed they came to take advantage of Sweden’s social welfare opportunities.There apparently is something about Muslim women wearing head coverings which upsets many people in western nations. Why the passion about this relatively unimportant aspect of attire?