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Women's Liberation Gaining Ground (April 22, 1977)

Despite prevailing policies and contrary to social norms, West Germany continued to see a trend towards single lifestyles and a decline in birthrates. According to the author, both these phenomena reflect women’s increased efforts to forge independent paths.

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Lysistrata on the Move: The Birth Rate Is Not Dropping due to the Pill; It is Women’s Emancipation That Is Teaching Society Fear

Civil society is becoming introspective. It has to deliberate awhile, because what is going on in its own ranks is breaking the rules. Lonesome – twosome: this word pair in its original meaning is starting to lose its significance. What is supposed to have a negative connotation, and what [is supposed to have] a positive one, is being turned upside down. The bond for life, the institution of the family, seems to attract people less and less. Although society and the state are doing all they can to make it as uncomfortable and difficult as possible for bachelors to do their own thing – as compared with tax gifts for families – the number of those who prefer the single life to tying the knot is still growing. And those who tied the knot are increasingly untying it and becoming single again.

It is women, in particular, who are declaring their independence, throwing in the dishtowel and leaving the reservation known as matrimony. Or they avoid it in the first place. “We no longer want to be there just for society,” which to them means having and raising children. At least they don’t want that right away. Society was, for a moment, speechless. And then it calculated what that meant: If this trend continues, then the 57.9 million citizens of today’s Federal Republic will have reduced their numbers to 22 million by about the end of the twenty-first century. Whether in light of overpopulation in other countries this is tragic or not is beside the point. What politicians are worriedly asking themselves, however, is who will be working for our pensions in forty or fifty years? And not only for those presently in the workforce, but also for the pensions of the mothers now pushing their way into working life, whether divorced or single, and those women who unequivocally refuse to get married and produce children in the Federal Republic?

After all, bachelor life is not all that rosy. A state that bases the feasibility of its system on the family cannot afford to pay for all the loners, the roughly 1,226,000 unmarried men over thirty and the approximately 8,172,000 single, divorced, or widowed women twenty and older. Bachelors have no lobby. As the blind shells of population policy, they have more disadvantages than benefits in income tax and social insurance contributions. They pay less into the pension funds than married people, although when it comes down to it they have no widows, widowers, or orphans to whom to transfer their claims from the state. The same thing is true for health and unemployment insurances.

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