Spain is a country known for being rich in romance and decadent passion, but time can make sport of all things, as reports indicate the country earned a higher number of deaths than births for the first time in 2016. That little problem caught the attention of the Spanish government faster than you can say “¡olé!” and a new position was created to address this: a sex tsar, not to be confused with a sex star.
Edelmira Barreira has been appointed to the new position by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Since her tenure has just started, it is unclear what she will be doing to increase the Spanish population, but as a demographic expert, she will draft a national strategy of demographic imbalances. We’re going to assume that her strategy will include jamon, siestas, futbol and trips to the beach.
You might wonder if those in government should mind their own business on whether or not people are having children, but it is more complicated than that. According to ABC Spain, Spain’s education ministry explained that the declining birth-rate “aggravates other economic imbalances and generates important “impacts” in the Welfare State.”
The problem doesn’t have to do with Spanish women not wanting to have kids, though, as Spanish women would [reportedly] love to have more children. But in the case the figures don’t lie. Spanish women aged 18-49 had an average of 1.3 children last year, below the EU average of 1.58, meaning Spain has one of the lowest birth rates in the developed world. Naturally, this decline has been a bit of a shock for many.
“I was astonished,” said Spanish business consultant Alejandro Macarrón. “We have provinces in Spain where for every baby born, more than two people die. And the ratio is moving closer to one to three.”
But why is this?
According to Rafael Puyol of the IE Business School in Madrid, Spaniards tend to work late hours and when they get home they’re just too damn tired to do anything else. Add a kid to that busy work schedule and you’ll want to siesta all day. What’s more, high rates of unemployment are also a factor, since starting a family is expensive. And if you think this problem will be compounded in subsequent years then you’re right.
“Most people think we’re only talking about something that will be a problem in 50 years, but we’re already seeing part of the problem,” Macarrón continued. “If current numbers hold, every new generation of Spaniards will be 40% smaller than the previous one.”
Spain is not the first country whose government has decided to get involved in population growth in recent years, with both Sweden and Russia having similar programs put in place to combat the global decline in birth rates. If the Spanish can follow the model set by the Swedes then they’ll be alright, but the issue serves to highlight a global phenomenon and should be met with a watchful eye.
I suggest Spain blast Marvin Gaye over every loudspeaker in the nation to solve their crisis but that’s just me.