Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Center of Europe, Part 10

What can Regina and her baby daughter tell us about Lithuania's future? Lots, really.

Lithuania's population at one time was nearly 4 million. The current estimate is about 3.3 million. Most of the loss is due to emigration since independence in 1991. But some of it has to do with the low birth rate.

Deaths outpace births in Lithuania 11-10 now. Lithuania is a Roman Catholic country, so the abortion rate is lower than in other Eastern European countries, but it is still significant. It is estimated there are 60 abortions for every 100 births. Women are choosing to have fewer children and later in life. This trend could have serious effects on Lithuania's ability to care for aged citizens in the future. It's a trend that has prompted the Russian government to offer financial incentives to couples willing to have more children. In Japan, the birth rate is so low that an impending crisis in eldercare is feared.

Most interesting in the Baltic countries is a shift in social attitude from east to west. In a recent Gallup International poll examining family values, people were asked whether they believed giving birth outside of marriage is morally wrong. Americans were almost evenly split, with 47 percent saying out-of-wedlock births are morally wrong, and 50 percent saying they are not wrong. In Lithuania, 75 percent said out-of wedlock births are not morally wrong, with 16 percent disagreeing.

It seems that much more than political boundaries and allegiances have changed in Lithuania, and more change is sure to come.


Anonymous said...

How could out-of-wedlock births be morally wrong? Out-of-wedlock sex is morally wrong, but giving birth to a precious child is never morally wrong. What's the alternative? Murder is always morally wrong. The poll was poorly worded. Just my $.02

Park Burroughs said...

You're right; the poll question was poorly worded. But is out-of-wedlock sex automatically morally wrong? Consider the couple in a committed relationship, in our culture or another, who raise a family in a loving home, but without the legal sanction of the state or the ritual of the church. Does legal paperwork have that much to do with morality?

Anonymous said...

What you describe is what God intended and I agree with you that a legal document does not guarantee lifelong companionship and love. But I strongly believe that God really does supply the sacramental graces to those who seek it through the Sacrament of Marriage. Studies clearly show that the most lasting marriages and happiest marriages are between those who share religious convictions and act upon them. However, I am speaking from a Catholic perspective, not too different from conservative Protestant and Orthodox Jewish points of view. In the 1950s, 9 in 10 young women got married without living with her partner. That illustrates to me the extent to which sexual liberation has desecrated our society in this present age. Out-of-wedlock sex leads to pregnancy which leads to abortion. But, the world has become secular and, as a result, the world is, in my opinion, experiencing social chaos.

Ellipses said...

I have to disagree... at any transition point, there will be a degree of chaos. But beyond all that, I find the world to be much more orderly as it becomes more secular. We are able to answer questions in a reasonable and logical way rather than defer to some mythological God.