The Thinking 

The Deceptions of Elizabeth Badinter

May 2, 2012


IN HER book, The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women, Elizabeth Badinter is guilty of outright distortion on a number of issues. Foremost among these is the issue of the French fertility rate. Badinter makes much of the fact that the fertility of French women is higher than that of other European women (even though it is still below replacement level.) She dismisses the statistical significance of immigrant fertility.

In a comment below, Jesse Powell corrects her point that the birth rate is not significantly altered by immigrants. The truth is, the French, like all native Europeans, are committing a form of slow cultural suicide, not simply by failing to reproduce but by high levels of family breakdown. Since the 1960s, the divorce and illegitimacy rates have both increased by more than 400 percent. In 2010, almost 60 percent of children born to two French parents were born out of wedlock.

When marriage is a territory of suspicion and hostile negotiation between the sexes, as Badinter insists it should be, why make promises? Badinter expresses no concern about the loss of interest in marriage or the high levels of divorce in France since the feminist revolution began. She is in effect cheering all this on.

Jesse Powell writes:

I was thinking some statistics on the fertility rate in France and other social indicators in France might be helpful here. All my data comes from the French statistics agency INSEE and the useful Google Translate service.

Looking at the history of fertility in France, in 1946 just after World War II the Total Fertility Rate was 3.00. The highest TFR in France’s post-war history was in 1947 with a TFR of 3.04; after that year fertility steadily declined to a local minimum of 2.67 in 1956 after which it rose to 2.92 in 1964. After 1964, the TFR sunk steadily to 1.82 in 1978. The last time France’s TFR was above replacement level, above 2.1, was in 1974; it has been below replacement level ever since. After 1978, the TFR rose to a high of 1.91 in 1982 and then fell to the post-World War II low of 1.66 in 1993. Since 1993, France’s TFR has been steadily rising reaching 2.00 in 2011.

 In 2008, the Total Fertility Rate in France was 2.01. Among women born in France, the TFR was 1.89; among women born outside of the EU-27 (the European Union) the TFR was 3.14. Nine percent of women of reproductive age in France were born outside of the European Union; 16 percent of all children born in France were born to such mothers. In 2010, the TFR for the entire EU-27 was 1.59.

 In 1998, of the children born in France 85.4 percent had two French parents, 88.5 percent had two European parents, 6.0 percent had one European parent, and 5.6 percent had two non-European parents. In 2010, of the children born in France 80.2 percent had two French parents, 83.0 percent had two European parents, 11.6 percent had one European parent, and 5.4 percent had two non-European parents. The proportion of inter-racial newborns almost doubled in France from 1998 to 2010 going from 6.0 percent of the total to 11.6 percent. I count a parent as non-European if they are not a citizen of any of the EU-27 countries.

In 1966, the divorce rate in France was 10.8 percent; in 2010 it was 53.2 percent. In 1966, the out-of-wedlock birth ratio in France was 6.0 percent; in 2010, it was 54.1 percent. In 1998, the out-of-wedlock birth ratio among children born to two French parents was 42.3 percent; in 2010 it was 59.2 percent. In 1998, the out-of-wedlock birth ratio among children born to two foreign (non-French) parents was 14.4 percent; in 2010 it was 28.4 percent.

                                   — Comments —

Mary writes:

I mentioned this in an entry several months ago but it is relevant. A couple of years ago, an older French woman of my aquaintance showed me a picture from a French newspaper hung on her refrigerator, a picture which made her very sad. In the photo were several, maybe 5 or 6, mothers of large families standing in a row, smiling and holding certificates or ribbons or some such thing (I can’t recall and couldn’t find the photo on the internet). At any rate, apparently the French government (or perhaps an organization of some kind) was honoring them for having five or more children, in order to encourage other French women to do the same. But upon examination, only one of the women was French; the others were all Muslim.

Laura writes:

So the French government honors Muslim mothers for having children who will never identify with French culture. It is incapable of protecting its future.

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