News.com.au posted an article last week about Spain’s insane laws on parental obligations, titled Country where unemployed 30-year-olds are suing their parents for financial support:
Under Spanish law, parents are required to support their children until they reach financial independence, with no age limit, and a string of cases in recent years has cemented the rule.
This is nuts. It isn’t just the open ended financial obligation, but the family strife that this kind of policy all but guarantees. It is one thing as a parent to voluntarily decide to help an adult child get on their feet, but something else entirely to have the state force you to pay your adult children a kind of alimony. In the former, you can set expectations of your child and discontinue help if those expectations aren’t being met. In the latter, the child can do as they like and you have to pay up… or else.
This law changes the nature of the parent child relationship even in cases where the child has not (yet) sued for support, as all Spanish parents are now bargaining in the shadow of the law. Who will want to sign up to have children knowing that once they grow up they turn into spoiled ex wives?
This is where it becomes farcical, because Spain is in the grips of severe population decline. Earlier this year Spain appointed a “commissioner for the demographic challenge”, which the international media dubbed Spain’s “Sex Tsar” or “Minister of Sex”. Fox’s article on the subject is typical: Spain appoints ‘minister for sex’ to reverse nation’s plummeting birth rate.
Spain has appointed its first Minister of Sex whose job will be to get people busy between the sheets.
The government hopes to boost Spain’s falling birth rate, which is one of the lowest in the developed world.
As nearly all of the articles on the topic explain, the problem is that Spaniards are simply too busy to have sex (emphasis mine):
The country is faced with a population crisis, with fewer births than deaths recorded for the first time last year.
Experts say long working hours and a culture of eating late at night and going to bed after midnight are partly to blame for the nation’s sex famine.
Rafael Puyol, of the IE Business School in Madrid, said: “They do not help with making a family. Then when a child arrives it is even worse.”
The denial here is astounding. Spaniards are having plenty of sex. What they aren’t doing (at least enough) is having children. Part of the problem is a vicious cycle. Population decline and less marriage weakens the economy, and a weak economy in turn leads to population decline and even lower marriage rates. But some of the solutions are painfully obvious. The most obvious is the insane rule that adult children can sue their parents for alimony. Repealing that nonsense would be an easy win, and help reverse the current message that people who have children are chumps, too stupid to use birth control.
Other solutions are nearly as obvious, but would likely be much more difficult politically. Just like the adult child alimony requirement teaches Spaniards that parents* are chumps, Spain has sent a clear message that fathers are chumps. Following a change in divorce law in 2005**, Spain’s divorce rate doubled. While the new law is “empowering” for women, it is devastating to men. As the New York Times explained in In Europe, Divorce and Separation Become a Burden for Struggling Fathers:
The pain of Europe’s economic crisis is being felt sharply by a new class of people: separated and divorced men who end up impoverished or on the streets as they struggle to maintain themselves while keeping up child support and alimony payments.
…In Spain, court filings against fathers who have not paid child support have risen sharply since the start of the economic crisis.
Not surprisingly, the marriage rate began falling dramatically following Spain’s 2005 legal encouragement to wives to kick the father out of the house (emphasis mine):
The incidence of marriage in the Spanish population has been reduced over the past 30 years, from 5.3 marriages for every 1 000 inhabitants in 1981 to 3.3 in 2013 (2 marriages fewer for every 1 000 inhabitants). The reduction in marriage rates has been intensified since 2006.
Certainly not all of the decline in births is due to policies designed to teach Spaniards that parents in general, and fathers in specific, are chumps. Much of this is driven by women prioritizing sexual freedom and education/career in their most fertile and marriageable years. But all of the real root causes share two common traits:
- They have nothing to do with a lack of sex.
- Feminist politics and attitudes.
What is obvious in this fiasco is that our elites would far rather play make-believe than deal with the fact that feminism is profoundly destructive, even in a time of crisis. Rolling back feminism, even on the margins, is quite literally unthinkable, so the press and other leaders go into fantasy land mode, just like conservative Christians. Some day the pain of the decline might be great enough that the elites decide to roll back the worst excesses of feminism, but clearly that day hasn’t yet come. The problem for all of us is that the longer we wait, the harder it will be to turn the problem around. We are squandering an enormous amount of goodwill from men, and the same inertia that is propping up the system today will be working against us once we decide to once again encourage marriage and fatherhood.
Update: Welcome Instapundit readers.
- How the destruction of marriage is strangling the feminist welfare state.
- Disrespecting respectability, dishonoring the honorable.
- More ominous than a strike.
*In theory the law applies to both mothers and fathers, but in reality since fathers are overwhelmingly the breadwinners the law is primarily aimed at fathers. However, since a married mother would have to divorce her husband to formally get off the hook, mothers are at least theoretically the target as well.
**There was also a change in Spanish domestic violence law in 2004 which is claimed to automatically jail men accused of domestic violence based solely on the accusation of a woman. If this is true, it reinforces the message that husbands/fathers are despicable and would be another obvious explanation for why marriage rates suddenly started declining around 2006.