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Grow up and get out of the house

The week's news at a glance.

Germany

Susanne GaschkeDie Zeit

Germans “don’t have time” to have kids, said Susanne Gaschke in Hamburg’s Die Zeit. The government recently asked a commission to find out why the birth rate in this country is so low—at 1.3 children per woman, rather than the 2.1 required to keep the population steady. The results came in last week: The German education system is to blame. Young people get out of high school at 18, later than in many countries. Then many enter college, where a typical five-year degree usually takes much longer to complete, as most students work part-time and study part-time. Those who want to skip college and start work must enter an apprenticeship program of at least two years, even to become a retail sales clerk. During their most fertile years, then, many Germans are still living at home, either studying or learning a trade. “And anyone who lives with his parents is unlikely to enter a serious relationship, let alone a marriage.” It’s only when they get out on their own that they’re ready to date, get hitched, have kids—and at that point, there’s only time for one child. The solution to Germany’s fertility problem is quite clear. “Make the kids grow up a little sooner.”

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