Germany is much richer and in many ways more advanced than India. But its people are old-fashioned Aryans. They have traditionally believed that the husband should go to the Fabrik — their name for a factory — and earn money with hard, conscientious work, while the wife brings up the children. This division of labour broke down long ago. Men dressed up, got hold of guns and invaded the rest of Europe in World War II, leaving women to man the machines. Then, as machines became more productive, both began to get into Volkswagens and drive down autobahns to neat little offices in the next town. All this purposeful activity left them little time for play in the bedroom. Then they got even richer and started flying to beaches to sun themselves in winter. There is much fun to be had on beaches, but the density of population on them is too high for intimate activities. However, it is high enough for mixing with strangers. It encouraged the rearrangement of marital pairs, a reform of the marital system that spread into offices. The result is that while there is sufficient cohabitation for good company, it is not persistent enough to breed the next generation. If a population is to reproduce itself, a couple must have at least two children; if some of them have none, or some refuse to form couples altogether, the number of children per couple would go up that much. A German woman in the childbearing age is having less than one-and-a-half children in her lifetime.
The government of Europe’s most powerful nation is naturally worried, and has been worried for some time. It has subsidies for children, married parents, single parents, orphans, and even siblings. A young German in her twenties can expect to get almost a crore of rupees in child-related subsidies during her lifetime. The government has tried all it can, and yet the population continues to fall. In 2011, there were 81 births and 104 deaths for every 10,000 Germans; 851,000 people died, and only 663,000 were replaced by new births. Government subsidies to women with children clearly failed to persuade them. This may be because marriage has become too tenuous an institution, or because life is freer without children, or the cost of having children is too high in terms of income forgone.
The latest report commissioned by the government says it is the last. The solution, namely replacement of income forgone, would be expensive, so it has been suggested that the government should invest in kindergartens, another long forgotten German invention. This may be a good idea. It would separate childbearing to some extent from child rearing. But kindergartens must also be manned, and the men have to go home at night; then the parents have to bear with the children. Maybe the Germans should turn to a British colonial invention called ayahs.