Western Europe : Social and Demographic Developents (2) : 1969-1989



The welfare states of the 1970es and 1980es emphasized social justice, a philosophy which emphasized equality of opportunities. Health care was accessible to everyone, either free of charge (Britain) or financed by universal mandatory insurances; unemployment benefits, social welfare were paid to those in need, schooling was free of charge in most countries, even including university education.
In the 1970es, in the more affluent countries, almost every family had a tv, a kitchen equipped with refrigerator, a washing machine. Many families owned a car, were used to go abroad on vacation every year; some families had two cars and/or went on vacation twice a year. Society had become a LEISURE SOCIETY.
Birth rates remained at a low level, many families of the DINK type - double income, no kids, and thus able to indulge in a life focussed on leisure. The state-provided education allowed many to earn good wages as skilled workers, salaried employees etc. In affluent welfare states, citizens avoided 3D-jobs (dirty, dangerous, difficult); these were mostly filled by MIGRANT WORKERS, which thus had become indispensable for society.
The benefits offered by the welfare state and good wages earned in the affluent countries of Western Europe were very attractive to people from the countries of communist Eastern Europe and from the Third World; when the immigration of workers was stopped in the early 1970es due to rising unemployment in Western Europe, the number of ASYLUM SEEKERS began to rise steadily. In recent years, the ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION also became a problem.
In the 1980es, governments began to encourage young families to have children by giving them tax incentives.
The numbers of divorces have continued to increase over the last decades, many couples living together without legally being married. In many countries, laws incriminating homosexuality have been scrapped, some countries (Denmark) have officially legalised the marriage of homosexuals.

Unemployment figures remained high over the last decades, with LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT among many unskilled workers, a rising ACADEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT and especially YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT. The problem is especially bad in certain regions, such as Italy's south (the Mezzogiorno), England's north (Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle) and Germany's east.
Some of those who are employed or working, such as the FARMERS, still are very dissatidfied with their situation due to the low prices their products achieve, a consequence of EU agricultural policy.
Especially among the young, frustration regarding their situation and their future caused an increase of VANDALISM, in form of British soccer HOOLIGANISM or XENOPHOBIC EXCESSES by German Neo-Nazis or exenophobic crowds elsewhere.


Birth Rates, Socialist Countries per 1000 population
source : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics, Europe 1750-1988, pp.100-113
country / year (1920) (1940) (1960) 1970 1975 1980 1985 1988
Austria
Belgium
Denmark
Finland
France
FRG
Ireland
Italy
Netherlands
Norway
Portugal
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
UK
22.7
22.2
25.4
27.0
21.4
(25.9)
(22.8)
32.2
28.6
26.1
33.6
29.5
23.6
20.9
25.5
(20.7)
13.3
18.3
17.8
13.6
(20.1)
19.1
23.5
20.8
16.1
24.3
24.4
15.1
15.2
14.1
17.9
16.9
16.6
18.5
17.9
17.4
21.5
18.1
20.8
17.3
24.2
21.8
13.7
17.6
17.1
15.0
14.6
14.4
14.0
16.7
13.4
21.9
16.8
18.3
16.6
20.0
19.5
13.7
16.0
16.0
12.4
12.2
14.2
13.9
14.1
9.7
21.2
14.8
13.0
14.1
19.1
18.8
12.6
12.2
12.2
12.0
12.7
11.2
13.2
14.9
10.1
21.9
11.3
12.8
12.5
15.8
15.2
11.7
11.7
13.2
11.6
11.6
10.5
12.8
13.9
9.6
17.6
10.1
12.3
12.3
12.8
11.8
11.8
11.5
13.1
11.0
10.5
11.5
12.8
13.8
11.0
15.3
9.9
12.6
13.7
11.9
(10.8)
13.3
12.2
13.8
Numbers GDR before 1949 for all of Germany; Poland (1920) 1921, (1940) 1939, Rumania (1988) 1987




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First posted on August 2nd 2001, last revised on November 11th 2004

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