“It will deteriorate very quickly”

“It will deteriorate very quickly”
“It will deteriorate very quickly”

In a report, several economists warn of the ravages of the decline in the birth rate, which could lead to 75 billion euros in losses on GDP. To reverse the trend, we should favor young people to the detriment of retirees, by investing in the construction of housing and nurseries in particular.

A demographic bomb may soon explode. After having long been an exception, France is seeing the birth rate decline, threatening the major balances of its economy, starting with social protection. All INSEE forecasts are based on a fertility rate of 1.8 children per woman. But in 2023, it was only 1.68. If this rate were to reach 1.3 children per woman, as in Italy, GDP could be reduced by 75 billion euros by 2040, according to a study by the Chair in Demographic Transitions, Economic Transitions (TDTE).

75 billion euros less

The long-term effects will be massive for public accounts. But economist Kevin Genna, one of the authors of the study, hopes to create awareness: “This will be felt in 15-20 years. The children we don’t have today will not enter in the labor market And if we have fewer contributors, we have less taxes and the State has less money, which results in a loss of 75 billion euros,” he assures.

“We have immense orders of magnitude. We have the impression of being faced with a mountain that looks more like the Himalayas than the Vosges,” adds the economist.

The French want to have children, since they want 2.4 on average. But this desire is hampered by various reasons. “Young people of childbearing age, between 18 and 30, represent 11 million people but they are mistreated,” explains this Wednesday on RMC and RMC Story Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, founder of the Circle of Economists and at the origin of the study. “They have major housing problems, how can they have an extra child in 25 m²? They also have problems integrating into the job market.”

“Old people who vote” pampered to the detriment of young people?

He deplores the emphasis on retirees. “Everything related to youth and birth rates is very mistreated in this country. There is a really nice Minister of Youth but no one knows her name (Sarah El Haïry, editor’s note)”, quips Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, who believes that the emphasis is placed on “old people who vote”, as opposed to young people while the situation “will deteriorate very quickly”.

Emmanuel Macron took up the subject last January. The President of the Republic called on the French to “demographic rearmament” by announcing an improvement in parental leave and offering young people a free fertility test at age 20.

There are still reasons for hope. The fall in the birth rate is not inevitable. It has risen, for example, in Germany, thanks to immigrants. For researcher Kevin Genna, the solution involves gender equality, better access to more spacious housing, and quite simply: the construction of crèches.

Guillaume Dussourt with Victor Joanin

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