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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Family Values

Although the photo of this SmartCar Cabriolet may seem like it has nothing to do with family values, I actually think it does.

Several months ago as I was watching CNN World News, my ears perked up when I heard two stories: one was about the high unemployment rate in Germany around 14% and the second about how the population growth of Europe is nearing 0%. I did a bit of Googling and found this to be true. (Check my facts on this) I noticed this the minute I landed in Italy. The only place I saw large gatherings of babies and children was at IKEA. We visited IKEA about twice a week for a month as we were deciding on a kitchen and were picking up accessories for the house.

Curious little thing that I am, I asked around to find out why bunchkins “bunch of munchkins” were so scarce, I got these replies/explanations:

“Turin is a dead city; it died when Fiat started to go downhill.”
“Fiat is Turin and Turin is Fiat, when production when down, people stopped having families.”
“One child per family is the usual case.”
“More than one child, like three or four, is for the rich or the very poor.” (This comment sounds very Un-PC but I did not make it, I’m just repeating it.)

This self imposed child restriction is strange to me, especially since I am from a family of 6 girls. Being the Capitalist American I am, and wanting all the choices in the world, and not wanting to be told I don’t have choices, I am dumbfounded. “Children enrich your life in a beautiful way” says a good friend of mine. I have always wanted 2, a boy and a girl. We already have the dog, now the only item left on out family list is a mini-van, although I doubt my race car loving husband would agree with me. Back to the SmartCar convertible, this car is a cute little number that parks like a dream. In the US, a car like this would not meet any crash test standards whatsoever and I would be afraid of being crushed by the new L3 Land Rover, Chevy Yukon or Ford Explorer. The SmartCar also does not have a back seat for the family dog and definitely has no room for the average 2.4 kids that US families produce. Many of the worlds developed countries have birthrates below replacement levels, in contrast to the US which has the highest birth rates among rich countries. So I guess it’s no SmartCar for us, seeing as my husbands thinks three children is a nice round number.


At 2:09 AM, Blogger rowena said...

My husband and I were discussing this low birth-rate issue last night and somewhere in the back of my mind, I remember my sis-in-law telling me that she actually got money for having a kid. I think 1000 euros. Of course, this figure she laughed at because then she said that it costs them almost 500 euros a month in daycare costs. I wonder if this 'incentive' to produce kids is offered only to working mothers only or stay-at-home mothers too? Would be nice to have a grand for having a baby, no?

At 2:37 AM, Blogger Gia-Gina said...

I wonder what will happen in 25 years or so to this country and others like China, with tons of boys and not many girls. I just better start planning on a nice retirement home.


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