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Kinder, Küche, Kirche
January 20, 2010 10:08 AM   Subscribe

In Germany, a Tradition Falls, and Women Rise. The half-day school system survived feudalism, the rise and demise of Hitler’s mother cult, the women’s movement of the 1970s and reunification with East Germany. Now, in the face of economic necessity, it is crumbling: one of the lowest birthrates in the world, the specter of labor shortages and slipping education standards have prompted a rethink.
posted by msalt (94 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
one of the lowest birthrates in the world, the specter of labor shortages

Capitalism will be the death of us.
posted by DU at 10:16 AM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Women will save us. Now's your chance, women, to fix all of the things we've messed up. Please. Someone has to.
posted by spicynuts at 10:26 AM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


"In the East, a Communist leadership losing male labor to the West set up free day care centers and all-day schools. Women drove cranes and studied physics. Western wives, by contrast, until 1977 officially needed husbands’ permission to work."

WTF seriously?
posted by mullingitover at 10:29 AM on January 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


How about this....half day school, plus half day apprenticeship starting at around 12. Mandatory.
posted by spicynuts at 10:30 AM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


mullingitover, it wasn't until 1975 in this country that married women could maintain a credit history in their own name. The economic history of gender equality is terrifying.
posted by KathrynT at 10:36 AM on January 20, 2010 [15 favorites]


I'm fascinated by countries that are willing to elect women to top political positions, but seem to be behind the US in "everyday" women's rights. Can anyone share articles/opinions on this?
posted by JoanArkham at 10:47 AM on January 20, 2010


There was a topic I can't find right now, where lots of MeFites recounted amazing true examples of the most outrageous discrimination like that in the 1960s and 1970s in the U.S. Hopefully someone else knows which one I mean.
posted by msalt at 10:47 AM on January 20, 2010


(Since the US seems to not be ready for a woman at the top.)
posted by JoanArkham at 10:47 AM on January 20, 2010


Last night I tried explaining a similar concept to my parents - Canada is similar to Germany in that we have a low growth rate and increasing pressures from all sides. My parents were able to have well-paying professional jobs with undergraduate degrees, and our family could afford a house on one salary such that my mother could stay at home and care for two kids for 7 years until we were both in grade school.

Now? Both my wife and I have masters degrees to get the same level of job, and have taken on student debt to achieve that. We're in our mid-thirties, have our first kid on the way in April and are unable to afford the median house price in our city on one salary - in part due to the loss of income from our educations and the rising housing prices due to rock-bottom mortgage rates. I can imagine the same is happening all over the developed world.

Our current generation is reaching a breaking point, and the fallout won't be pretty. Fuck those people who look down their noses at folks who resort to placing their child in (extremely expensive) daycare - daycare that in Canada, at least, has lost state funding in favour of individual $100/month (ha!) allowances per child. This from conservatives who espouse family values.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:48 AM on January 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


Since we just recently had an election where a woman was very seriously in the running and almost did win, I think it's fair to say the US is ready for a woman at the top. "Being ready for" is not the same as "having".
posted by DU at 10:49 AM on January 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


An interesting and provocative point the article makes is that family-unfriendly work policies seem to cause low birthrates, and that countries are starting to adopt new policies -- like Germany giving extra leave for new infants if fathers take at least 2 months off too -- just to avoid demographic disaster.

So part of the answer to your questions, JoanArkham, is that in Germany it's not unusual for a childless woman like Merkel to be in power, but mothering AND working is radical.
posted by msalt at 10:54 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of the few things that impressed me about Sarah Palin was that she had achieved her position as a high executive official during her childbearing and rearing years. We have very few other women in politics who have even attempted that; Chelsea Clinton was 13 when her father started his term, and Hillary Clinton didn't even really begin her political career until at least four years after that. That was a part of the political narrative of Governor Palin that I would have liked to see get more attention. Too bad it was overshadowed by the fact that she is absolutely batshit insane.
posted by KathrynT at 10:58 AM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


jimmythefish--if you live in Ontario, at least you have all-day kindergarten coming soon. And politicians who blather on about "family values" generally tend to have the most backward social policies. Funny, that.
posted by Go Banana at 11:01 AM on January 20, 2010


Fair enough, DU. I guess I tend to be more pessimistic about it.
posted by JoanArkham at 11:04 AM on January 20, 2010


JoanArkham, there is a theory that more female sovereigns arise in developing nations or countries experiencing political crisis. This is in part because there's less expectation that a president should embody normative ideals (in America's case, centuries of white, rich, male presidents) if the precedent is brief or exposed as unstable. I'm not sure if anyone's argued that George W. Bush's disastrous terms could qualify as political upheaval, but as Chris Rock says, Bush made it hard for a white man to run for president.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:05 AM on January 20, 2010


I'm fascinated by countries that are willing to elect women to top political positions, but seem to be behind the US in "everyday" women's rights.

Well, speaking as a Canadian, I'm always shocked when I hear how little maternity leave is given to women in the U.S., so I wouldn't get too haughty about how great "everyday" women's rights are in the U.S. I have to say, I also come across eye-opening comments like this one on Metafilter (that thread is full of crazy stories) about the everyday experience of aggressive sexism by women in the U.S., and I don't know if it's just because I'm a guy, or because the women I know don't go to bad parts of town, or what, but I've never heard of such behaviour in Canada. Never. I can't imagine that kind of behaviour being tolerated on public transit in Toronto, and the idea that is a regular experience for American women, and that the men around them don't do anything about it, astounds me.
posted by Dasein at 11:11 AM on January 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


The fact that jobs that made a lot of money decades ago aren't making much now doesn't mean anything other than things change. There's a lot of jobs that were valuable decades, or centuries ago that have no use in the modern economy. Perhaps you should think about changing your career, not expecting society to value something they don't want.

We need to downsize our expectations. Our parents got by with a lot less than us, but now we cry when we can't afford the payments on 2 brand new $40,000 SUVs?

I own an average house in an average neighborhood in one of the more expensive cities in North America, and get by quite fine on one income with a 2 year college degree.

bah humbug
posted by blue_beetle at 11:11 AM on January 20, 2010


It may be just as well that Palin as a mother was not given more attention, given that she got married because she was pregnant and her children are pretty much of a mess: oldest son forced to go into the army (or face jail for vandalism), daughter pregnant in high school. She paraded her kids around as political props pretty shamelessly, too.

Frankly, I prefer Hillary's approach a thousand fold. For all their faults, she and Bill seemed to have done a great job raising Chelsea. Ditto the Obamas. Didn't Michelle work all the while raising her daughters?
posted by msalt at 11:12 AM on January 20, 2010


I think one of the biggest reasons the US has trouble electing a woman as president is that so many Americans believe the first solution is to send the military over to bomb or kick the ass of whoever is associated with the problem, and women are seen as lacking the testosterone to initiate and manage the aggresiveness. Sarah Palin, however, would be an exception if she weren't rightfully viewed as such an off the reservation dingbat by so many of the voters.
posted by Daddy-O at 11:17 AM on January 20, 2010


but I've never heard of such behaviour in Canada. Never. I can't imagine that kind of behaviour being tolerated on public transit in Toronto, and the idea that is a regular experience for American women, and that the men around them don't do anything about it, astounds me.

When I lived in Vancouver in my early-mid twenties I recall walking up into Kitsilano from Jericho Beach with two female friends - blonde and attractive. The cat-calling from cars passing us was oppressive. Granted, it was from people who were likely drinking at the beach all day. But, it was there and when I asked them if it was like this for them all the time, they said yes. They were really good at ignoring it, but I was absolutely shocked.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:19 AM on January 20, 2010


Why are lower birthrates that bad. The world's overpopulated anyway. Parents are starting to name their kids Brayden and Jayden and Dalton. It's chilling.
posted by anniecat at 11:23 AM on January 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


Frankly, I prefer Hillary's approach a thousand fold.

Exactly my point. The approach where a woman tables her career until her children are adolescents is seen as "better" than the approach where a man does the same. Why is that?
posted by KathrynT at 11:24 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I believe that "family values" is one of those conservative doublespeak terms, along with the notion of "protecting marriage." It's a way to sound like you're standing for something without having to go into details which show you are against it.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:25 AM on January 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


WTF seriously?

Yes, seriously. In the mid-seventies, a friend of my mother's, who had married later in life but who had a long, and continuing, professional career, discovered that she could not get a personal loan without her husband's signature, despite the fact that she had taken out and repaid several such loans at the same institution in the past. That put me off legal marriage for a very long time.
posted by jokeefe at 11:25 AM on January 20, 2010


anniecat: "Why are lower birthrates that bad. The world's overpopulated anyway. Parents are starting to name their kids Brayden and Jayden and Dalton. It's chilling."

It's not that low birthrates are bad on their own, it's just that old people are so awful and if nobody has kids then the olds take over the country and nobody can go on anyone's lawn anymore.
posted by mullingitover at 11:26 AM on January 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


... and I don't know if it's just because I'm a guy...but I've never heard of such behaviour in Canada. Never. I can't imagine that kind of behaviour being tolerated on public transit in Toronto,

I don't want to derail this thread, and I definitely get the rest of your comment about Canada's better maternity options for women, but I wanted to point out that "just being a guy" is absolutely, fundamentally why you haven't seen much of that scary, aggressive sexual harassment in public.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:26 AM on January 20, 2010 [19 favorites]


Argh, US-centrism showing. In my comment about married women's credit, please replace "this country" with "the US."
posted by KathrynT at 11:28 AM on January 20, 2010


One of the few things that impressed me about Sarah Palin was that she had achieved her position as a high executive official during her childbearing and rearing years.

From what I can understand, she's done very little except garner attention. She's undertaken no serious study of any subject that one might expect in a politician, no advanced degrees, no law school, and her governing experience is limited to a couple of years (and her distaste for the actual work involved has been obvious).
posted by jokeefe at 11:28 AM on January 20, 2010


There's a magic fix to low birthrates, and it's called Immigration. Open the borders, open the doors, and soon they'll be lots of workers ready to step into the shoes of their elders! They may not share your religion, or speak your language at home, but there are many, many people who would give a great deal for a chance at making a life in our so-called first world.
posted by jokeefe at 11:31 AM on January 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


From what I can understand, she's done very little except garner attention.

. . . and get elected. I'm not arguing that she's been effective, or even competent, in her role; I don't think she has to be, though, to be noteworthy as a woman who got elected to high executive office while bearing and raising children. Frankly, examples of that are so thin on the ground that I'll take whatever I can get.
posted by KathrynT at 11:32 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


...in Germany it's not unusual for a childless woman like Merkel to be in power, but mothering AND working is radical.

There's an American playwright from the early 20th Century, Rachel Crothers, whom I've always been intrigued by because she espoused this very notion in a lot of her work - on the one hand, she would write some very eloquent plays decrying the double standard and asserting womens' right to achieve on a career front, particularly in the arts. But on the other hand, she was very firmly of the opinion that women could NOT have both job AND career. In one of her plays, HE AND SHE, the main characters are a husband and wife who both are sculptors; both submit separate works into a competition for a prestigious fellowship. Meanwhile, their teenage daughter is acting up. At the plays' end, the news that the wife has won the fellowship arrives on the heels of the news that the daughter was caught in some major transgression (I forget what she did); and the wife shamefacedly decides that "I should have been taking care of my daughter instead of sculpting or this wouldn't have happened," and she declines the fellowship to take care of the home. Her husband, who'd come in second, gets the award.

Crothers, herself, stayed unmarried and childless - and was pretty clear that it was because she'd made the decision that a woman could be either one or the other, but not both.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:33 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Exactly my point. The approach where a woman tables her career until her children are adolescents is seen as "better" than the approach where a man does the same. Why is that?

It often makes financial sense. Men stereotypically trend towards higher paying jobs (engineering, sales, etc) while women often go towards the lower paying ones like teaching and social work. I recognize this isn't always true but I've been in both fields and the divide is there.


There's a magic fix to low birthrates, and it's called Immigration. Open the borders, open the doors, and soon they'll be lots of workers ready to step into the shoes of their elders! They may not share your religion, or speak your language at home, but there are many, many people who would give a great deal for a chance at making a life in our so-called first world.


Often that comes at the expense of your culture. Not every country has the melting pot mindset. So far, the Japanese, for example, have decided that making Japan less Japanese is not an option when it comes to solving their problems.
posted by codswallop at 11:36 AM on January 20, 2010


... and I don't know if it's just because I'm a guy...but I've never heard of such behaviour in Canada. Never. I can't imagine that kind of behaviour being tolerated on public transit in Toronto,

I've never been to Toronto, but I have seen that kind of behavior happen in Vancouver. It's pretty universal, sadly.
posted by Forktine at 11:36 AM on January 20, 2010


Open the borders, open the doors, and soon they'll be lots of workers ready to step into the shoes of their elders!

Racism is not the only reason to oppose open immigration. Many people believe that there are cultural factors which differ between rich and poor states which are causal. For example, petty corruption is not tolerated in British-descended states. Organized crime is also fairly weak and aggressively prosecuted. If you import many people with cultural problems, then those problems will become the norm. If you restrict to slower immigration, then the newcomers will tend to adopt the existing standard faster than they change it. An example of particular interest in Germany is women's rights. If they allow many people with beliefs that it is OK to aggressively exclude women from public society, then women of all origins will suffer.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:42 AM on January 20, 2010


It often makes financial sense. Men stereotypically trend towards higher paying jobs (engineering, sales, etc) while women often go towards the lower paying ones like teaching and social work.

Except in the case of both the Obamas and the Clintons, both Michelle and Hillary had very similar educations and careers as their husbands. Hillary, in fact, was very resistant to getting married and afterwards, resistant to moving to Alabama for Bill's career, because it put her own burgeoning political career on hold until after his presidency. So no, it had nothing to do with earning potential (heck, both Michelle and Hillary worked high-paying jobs precisely so their husbands could take low-paying political positions) and everything to do with... well, you fill in the blanks.
posted by muddgirl at 11:44 AM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why are lower birthrates that bad.

Because it wreaks havoc on the dependency ratio. The productive people in their late teens to early 60s carry everyone else, in terms of productivity.

There's a magic fix to low birthrates, and it's called Immigration.

But then things change, and if there's one thing old people fear more than robots (transcript), it's change.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:45 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The approach where a woman tables her career until her children are adolescents is seen as "better" than the approach where a man does the same.

Not the point I was making. For one thing, you're ignoring the fact that Hillary was a successful and prominent attorney while raising her daughter. That's hardly "tabling" your career.

Hillary's approach involved a lot of things, including choosing how many children they could raise as a busy ambitious couple, giving that child lots of attention and support (both parents), carefully shielding her from public attention even in the White House and never using her as a political prop, avoiding hypocrisy and unreasonable standards that set your kids up for personal failures, etc.
posted by msalt at 11:47 AM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Forktine: Ugh. I apologize on behalf of my idiotic sex. On some level I think we really believe you'll feel flattered.

I also appreciate zoomorphic's comment above (it's like, "hey, maybe it's just because I'm not a visible minority, but I've never seen anybody be discriminated against"; I know it's like that), though I would still wager there's a difference between how oftern this happens in Canada v. the U.S.

Anyway, derail over.
posted by Dasein at 11:53 AM on January 20, 2010


Often that comes at the expense of your culture. Not every country has the melting pot mindset. So far, the Japanese, for example, have decided that making Japan less Japanese is not an option when it comes to solving their problems.

Yep, and they are freaking out over their low birthrate and have been for many years, but seem unwilling to take the necessary steps to reverse it.
posted by jfwlucy at 11:54 AM on January 20, 2010


My mom went to get a bank loan in 1974 or thereabouts (this is in the U.S.), and actually had to produce her divorce papers for the loan officer in order to prove that she didn't have a husband, and therefore didn't need his signature. So, yeah. Crazy. And crazily recent.
posted by rtha at 11:55 AM on January 20, 2010


I don't know if it's just because I'm a guy...but I've never heard of such behaviour in Canada. Never. I can't imagine that kind of behaviour being tolerated on public transit in Toronto

Reporting in from downtown Toronto: I used to live in the US and got more than my share of harassment there. Thus far in Toronto, I've been: stalked, followed, hooted at, and chased into a convenience store.

Sorry :/
posted by Ouisch at 11:57 AM on January 20, 2010


I'm always shocked when I hear how little maternity leave is given to women in the U.S.... I don't know if it's just because I'm a guy... but I've never heard of such behaviour in Canada.
posted by Dasein at 1:11 PM on January 20 [2 favorites +] [!]


Oh, it happens. I've lived in both countries, and have experienced unwelcome aggressively sexual behaviour in Halifax, Ottawa, Edmonton, Nashville and Concord NH, basically everywhere I've lived for any length of time.

The maternity leave situation here in the US is INSANE though, and good point there. You get 6 weeks leave (8 if you have a c-section) under the FMLA. That's nuts. I describe the way we fund mat leave through EI in Canada to Americans, and to a woman they joke half-seriously about emigrating.
posted by joannemerriam at 11:58 AM on January 20, 2010


Oh yeah, and Korea has announced it will be sending workers home early to try to get their population to get more babymaking done, too.

When I was in Japan a politician making a speech to my high school's female students that boiled down to an oft-repeated:

"Three, three, thirty-three!"

It meant, have three children, three years apart, before age thirty three. This was the path to personal satisfaction, a successful life and was also no less than one's duty to one's country.
posted by jfwlucy at 12:11 PM on January 20, 2010


I think half-day primary school would be amazing.
I wonder if I can get my school district to adopt it before my child is of that age.

Imagine a morning of school, then an a afternoon to just be a kid. Seems like it'd be a good deal all around if you could get the balance right.
Maybe phase in the longer days, so by the time you hit middle/jr. high, you are ready for a longer day.
posted by madajb at 12:17 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


The maternity leave situation here in the US is INSANE though, and good point there. You get 6 weeks leave (8 if you have a c-section) under the FMLA. That's nuts.

My brother and sister-in-law had already decided, before my niece was born, that they wanted to move back east from L.A. But -- they waited until AFTER she was born. People asked them why they didn't move BEFORE she was born -- after all, a cross-country move is hard enough, let alone trying to do so when you've got a three-month-old infant.

But when they answered that California has a three-month maternity leave policy, everyone just nodded and said, "oh, gotcha."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:23 PM on January 20, 2010


I'm sure I meant that the Clintons moved to Arkansas.
posted by muddgirl at 12:25 PM on January 20, 2010


Crothers, herself, stayed unmarried and childless - and was pretty clear that it was because she'd made the decision that a woman could be either one or the other, but not both.

There are still many people with that mindset, but like a lot of feminists I think that's missing the point. Why is it impossible to raise children and also have an outside life? Well, in a word, lack of support. Access to help, flexible work situations that take this very normal and necessary part of life into account, educational facilities that do likewise, societal acceptance of parenting (not just motherhood--no one ever seems to expect dads to do much in these discussions) as something most adults will want to do at some point in their lives.

The idea that one group of people must raise our children and do nothing else, to their own detriment, rather than spreading the work of raising the next generation out equitably, is at fault here, not any one woman's ability to work and parent without assistance.

Oh and anyone who hasn't read Ursula LeGuin's story "The Matter of Seggri", it's a great story for many reasons but mostly because she posits a culture in which women both have children and do valuable work, and no one agonizes about it because the mechanisms are built into the culture itself matter-of-factly.
posted by emjaybee at 12:31 PM on January 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yes yes yes, emjaybee. I was trying to write pretty much that same comment.

And I think that there is absolutely space in such a society for mothers or fathers who want to work from home, or decide that they can live on one income while the other pursues whatever hobbies he or she desires, or decide that homeschooling is a valuable investment, etc. etc..
posted by muddgirl at 12:36 PM on January 20, 2010


On the immigration point, it works OK in the US because the US aggressively exports its culture to the extent that there is a "US culture" and because English is the accepted language of international trade for the most part. It works OK in Canada because Canada is a lot like the US and you can see the previous points. The US and Canada were also built by waves of immigration and culturally are adjusted to dealing with this.

European countries are not like this and immigration has been a painful process for them. To simply wave your hands and say "immigration MAGIC!" is to ignore reality.

Also, the US and Canada get a lot of immigrants from various European nations where the cultural norms are fairly similar. Europe has been getting immigrants primarily from Africa and the middle east and while they could have done a lot more to integrate these populations, they also have a much bigger gap to bridge.
posted by GuyZero at 12:39 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Imagine a morning of school, then an a afternoon to just be a kid. Seems like it'd be a good deal all around if you could get the balance right.

Yeah, I know what you mean -- my first reaction to this story was, poor kids, stuck in school that many more hours. I hated school.
posted by JanetLand at 12:40 PM on January 20, 2010


Also, the US and Canada get a lot of immigrants from various European nations where the cultural norms are fairly similar.

This argument is starting to bother me, but I'm not really wanting to derail this thread--but it's sounding more and more like racist apologism. US "culture" changes daily, but our laws do not, and new immigrants from whatever culture are subject to them. This vaguely hinting fear that others will bring their brutal practices to our shores and force them on the rest of us...huh. Mighty familiar to anyone who pays attention to the history of various forms of anti-immigration hysteria. I don't think the US is exceptionally protected from this "threat" because I don't believe it exists.

/derail
posted by emjaybee at 12:46 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


There are still many people with that mindset, but like a lot of feminists I think that's missing the point. Why is it impossible to raise children and also have an outside life?

Mind you, Rachel Crothers was active in 1910 or so. Her saying women were equal to men on ANY field at all was novel right there. As a matter of fact, another of her plays which slammed the double standard got critiqued itself for being a little too "radical".

That's why I am so fascinated with Crothers sometimes - she was both progressive AND conservative on this issue, simultaneously.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:52 PM on January 20, 2010


Ten years into the 21st century, most schools in Germany still end at lunchtime

Stop. This completely blows my mind.

How is it possible that German kids attend school literally half as long as US schools, and yet Germany produced some of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century? Germany's economy is unstoppable.

What is the US doing so wrong? Does the US approach burn children out on school so early that by the time they reach high school, they've had enough?
posted by Pastabagel at 1:13 PM on January 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm of really, really mixed feelings on the whole immigration / culture wars thing. On the one hand, I basically believe that all immigration should be as open as possible, and I'm really sensitive to the crypto-racism involved in protestations of culture assimilation. On the other hand, I have serious trouble with the idea that the powerful people can restrict their birth rates as much as they want to their own short-term benefit, secure in the idea that less-powerful people will move to town to take care of them.

The gripping hand, though, appears to be that under current economic and cultural conditions, women will choose to restrict their fertility to below replacement rates as soon as the ability to do so becomes available to them. Immigration solves the problem for a generation, but when people get here, safe effective birth control is waiting for them. So either we posit foreign nations who are breeding future First World citizens in perpetuity, which I think anyone would recognize as problematic, or we address the problem of making childbirth and childrearing less burdensome and more attractive.
posted by KathrynT at 1:16 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


This completely blows my mind.

Seriously. Thems some lucky motherfuckers.
posted by symbollocks at 1:29 PM on January 20, 2010


On the other hand, Germany is one of those backward nations where homeschooling is illegal.
posted by symbollocks at 1:35 PM on January 20, 2010


The gripping hand, though, appears to be that under current economic and cultural conditions, women will choose to restrict their fertility to below replacement rates as soon as the ability to do so becomes available to them.

This isn't true. Studies show that fertility rates don't just fall but will actually rise with mechanisms that strengthen womens' rights. Specifically, developed countries with strong reproductive rights, including abortion, access to birth control, pay equality, womens' education and maternity leave have higher rates than those that don't. Giving women the ability to schedule their pregnancies and resources to support their families is the way to solve this problem. Of course right-wing male politicians frequently attempt to restrict reproductive rights in order to address falling fertility rates, which makes things worse, not better.

The best work on this subject is Michelle Goldberg's recently-published The Means of Reproduction. She talks specifically about the German situation. I strongly recommend it.
posted by allen.spaulding at 1:50 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


One more thing: Specifically, Goldberg points to Germany's insane tax structure as a huge problem with their fertility rate. Second incomes are punitively taxed at higher rates than first incomes (to discourage women from working alongside their husbands).
posted by allen.spaulding at 1:51 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Chelsea Clinton was 13 when her father started his term, and Hillary Clinton didn't even really begin her political career until at least four years after that.

This makes it sound like the Clintons decided who should be president at the kitchen table:
Bill: "We're both gonna get it, gorgeous. You go first."
Hillary: "Oh sweetie. Chelsea's young. You know they'd say I was a bad mom, and I just couldn't take that."
Bill: "OK, me first, but you in 2010, alright pumpkin?''

Bill Clinton is the best US politician of our lifetime, all around: campaigning, policy, strategy, leadership. And it was still a near miracle he was elected president. They had to choose as a couple which one would run, and which would earn money. Bill was the right and obvious choice to run, regardless of parenting, sex roles, etc.

Maternity Leave

There was NO right to maternity leave at all until Clinton became president. The FMLA was one of the first laws he signed.
posted by msalt at 1:53 PM on January 20, 2010


I basically believe that all immigration should be as open as possible, and I'm really sensitive to the crypto-racism involved in protestations of culture assimilation.

So the differences in the history of immigration in Germany and the history of immigration in America - and let's just keep this post-WW II to take out obvious anti-immigrant influences - are due just to Germans being racists? Or crypto-racists?

I think it's somewhat more nuanced than that.
posted by GuyZero at 1:58 PM on January 20, 2010


Imagine a morning of school, then an a afternoon to just be a kid. Seems like it'd be a good deal all around if you could get the balance right.
Maybe phase in the longer days, so by the time you hit middle/jr. high, you are ready for a longer day.


But who watches them in the afternoon? When too many people are torn between working to make ends meet or because they love a career and having a baby/child that will effectively prevent you from working, the birth rate suffers. From the article:

"Today, highly qualified women — and there are more of them than ever — tend to want to work, even if that means forgoing children; by their mid-40s, one in three German women live in childless households, the highest proportion in Europe along with Austria. At the same time, more and more women need to work, either as single mothers or because their partner cannot support a family alone."
posted by Never teh Bride at 2:13 PM on January 20, 2010


From the Guardian: how Iceland enjoys a society that is both welcoming to children and supportive to families:
Highest birth rate in Europe + highest divorce rate + highest percentage of women working outside the home = the best country in the world in which to live. [...] But none of this happiness would be possible without the hardy self-confidence that defines individual Icelanders, which in turn derives from a society that is culturally geared - as its overwhelming priority - to bring up happy, healthy children, by however many fathers and mothers. [...] 'No way do you think when you have a kid at 22, "Oh my God, my life is over!" Definitely not! It is considered stupid here to wait till 38 to have a child. We think it's healthy to have lots of kids. All babies are welcome.'
posted by jokeefe at 2:21 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


How is it possible that German kids attend school literally half as long as US schools, and yet Germany produced some of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century?

It sounds from the articles like Germany's half-day schools have zero non-academic classes -- no art, no gym, no music. Mothers are expected to spend the rest of the day shuttling their children to those kinds of activities.

Maybe things are different in US schools now, but my day was probably half academic, half lunch/music/art/gym.

And yeah, I have to say, if children having happy childhoods were all you cared about, this system would be pretty rockin'. I would have loved a half-day school.
posted by palliser at 2:28 PM on January 20, 2010


So the differences in the history of immigration in Germany and the history of immigration in America - and let's just keep this post-WW II to take out obvious anti-immigrant influences - are due just to Germans being racists? Or crypto-racists?

Sort of, at least from an American perspective. We pride ourselves as an immigrant culture, and almost anyone born on US soil is granted citizenship. We forget how different things are in other countries. In Germany, until the 90s, a citizenship request was based on the citizenship of the person's father or possibly his paternal grandfather. If you could prove you were of German decent citizenship was fairly easy. Otherwise it was very, very difficult even if you had lived there your entire life. You might get Aufenthaltsberechtigung (right to reside) but not full citizenship. A lot of this got sorted out during reunification when a wave of citizenship requests came in. On the one hand there were Turkish applicants who were the children of guest workers who had been there since the 60s and were as culturally German as you could ask for. On the other hand there was a mass of ethnic Germans who were culturally Russian (or more accurately Soviet). This caused a lot of soul searching about what it meant to be German and sparked immigration reform. Still there is a large group who believe that to be truly German you have to be ethnically German.
posted by BenNewman at 2:59 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


It sounds from the articles like Germany's half-day schools have zero non-academic classes -- no art, no gym, no music. Mothers are expected to spend the rest of the day shuttling their children to those kinds of activities.

I went to a half-day school in Berlin and we had art, music, (way too much) gym, elective languages, etc. There was no lack of extra-curriculars!
posted by Never teh Bride at 3:20 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


We forget how different things are in other countries.

Which was my point. Germany could have handled their immigration laws and customs better but just because they're not perfect doesn't mean they have to do exactly what the US does.

Immigration is difficult to manage and is no more a panacea for dropping birth rates than paying women to have babies. Even universal child care, which is pretty great, is not a perfect solution. Although it's probably the closest if you ignore the price tag.
posted by GuyZero at 3:20 PM on January 20, 2010


But, uh, we also had school for some hours every other Saturday, so...
posted by Never teh Bride at 3:24 PM on January 20, 2010


Which was my point. Germany could have handled their immigration laws and customs better but just because they're not perfect doesn't mean they have to do exactly what the US does.

Absolutely, I wasn't making a judgment call about their immigration stance at all. The US has always had such a strong immigration culture because we've always had so much land just waiting to be stolen from the natives that we take it as the natural order of things. Other countries have different perspectives and priories and treat the matter in ways that can run counter to our instilled sensibilities is all.
posted by BenNewman at 3:34 PM on January 20, 2010


Also, the US and Canada get a lot of immigrants from various European nations where the cultural norms are fairly similar. Europe has been getting immigrants primarily from Africa and the middle east and while they could have done a lot more to integrate these populations, they also have a much bigger gap to bridge.

The last time I checked, the largest group of immigrants to the US are from Latin America. I don't know where that fits on your "cultural norms" scale. According to that excellent source Wikipedia:
A record 1,046,539 persons were naturalized as U.S. citizens in 2008. The leading countries of birth of the new citizens were Mexico, India and the Philippines.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:43 PM on January 20, 2010


late 1980's, early 90's, Northern Virginia: my parents were divorced amicably, my mother now owned the house unconditionally. However, the homeowners' association wouldn't buy back the pool membership from her unless she had a written okay from my father.
posted by bentley at 3:56 PM on January 20, 2010


I'm just really impressed that Germany apparently had a state-school system during it's feudal period -- you know, when they still had serfdom and before German was founded as a state.

note to reporters: these words, they mean something. Please make sure you know what that is.
posted by jb at 4:49 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm just really impressed that Germany apparently had a state-school system during it's feudal period

The article points out that the current system was a very progressive advance when it was introduced, which is part of why it's been hard to let go of.

I went to a half-day school in Berlin and we had art, music, (way too much) gym, elective languages, etc. There was no lack of extra-curriculars!

Don't mess up perfectly good bloviating with your damn dirty experience! Or do, and tell us -- was it a good education? How do you figure that is done in half the time?
posted by msalt at 5:08 PM on January 20, 2010


But who watches them in the afternoon? When too many people are torn between working to make ends meet or because they love a career and having a baby/child that will effectively prevent you from working, the birth rate suffers.

Well, if someone wants to warehouse their kid in an all-day school just because they don't want to give up their career, in my opinion they've made the wrong choice.

For those that _must_ work, single parents, etc, my city has a summer program in the park for kids, I'd think the same kind of thing could be done during the school year.
Less structured than school, cheaper for the school district, but better than just having the children dumped in front of the TV or into an over-crowded daycare.
posted by madajb at 5:11 PM on January 20, 2010


Well, if someone wants to warehouse their kid in an all-day school just because they don't want to give up their career, in my opinion they've made the wrong choice.

I can't wait to hear your opinion about women who stay at home all day and STILL decide to warehouse their kid in an all-day school! How selfish they must be!
posted by muddgirl at 5:17 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or do, and tell us -- was it a good education? How do you figure that is done in half the time?

I was an exchange student to Germany back when I was in high school.
From what I remember, there was a whole lot less "mucking around" in the German classes I attended.
When the class started, for the next 45 minutes, it was time for material.
Unlike my American school, where a lot of time was taken up with settling the class down, then handing out the graded quizzes, then chatting about whatever, etc.

Also, I remember there being classes in the afternoon depending on what "track" you were on. Not every day, but my host definitely was in school at least some afternoons.
posted by madajb at 5:18 PM on January 20, 2010


One important factor in this that the article fails to mention is age - the average German is 27 when graduating from university. As a consequence, many educated women only start having children when they're over 30 or just don't have any at all.

Also: "Staunch defenders are not just socially conservative politicians or clerics. Germany’s middle classes long believed that they, not the state, should round out children’s general culture. No school, the thinking went, could improve on a mother."

They still do, and it's not just the middle classes, this opinion is still prevalent in all parts of society (although I guess the more modern version is that it doesn't matter whether it's the mother or the father who takes care of the children). I think it's too simplistic to simply dismiss it as sexist and be done with it. As far as I know, it stems back, to, among other things, Hitler's mother cult which has to some extent become ingrained in German society's view on motherhood.
There's an interesting book on this topic which, unfortunately, seems not to be available in English.

"It sounds from the articles like Germany's half-day schools have zero non-academic classes -- no art, no gym, no music."

Art, gym and music are mandatory classes in Germany.

Here's an article about declining birth rates that contradicts some of the statements made in the article (Google Translate-translated, copy-pasted in full because it's no longer available online):

The tale of the empty cradle
from jetzt.de - Editing Texts
The declining birth rate in industrialized countries is less bad than gedachtDemographie is a science for people who like a little shudder. A disaster is quick to predict when the number of people changing the world: there are more, you have to extrapolate this trend far enough into the future - and we recognize the "population explosion". Will it be less, which is not much better, now threatens the long-term depopulation. Surprisingly close to both fears of the public debate is not: one can simultaneously be afraid of the one and the other, which indicates a cartoon from the nineties. As two men gleichaussehende posters keep up - on the one says: "End of the world because of population explosion!" And on the other: "End of the world because of declining birth rate!

Joshua Goldstein is one of the demographers who do not see the horror is so important. He arrived two years ago by the U.S. Princeton University to Rostock to head there with James Vaupel of the Max Planck Institute for demography. Now, Goldstein presents an essay that will provide for debates ( "The End of Lowest-Low Fertility?" Population and Development Review, December 2009). Goldstein is doing something, what do demographers in Germany so far rare: It gives all-clear. "The fear of Bevölkerungsimplosion that came up during the extremely low fertility rates of the nineties, is unfounded," is his conclusion.

Of extremely low birth demographers talk about when women receive on average fewer than 1.3 children. There used to be the most in times of war. But in recent years seemed to spread the phenomenon: Italy, Spain and Greece were among the countries with extremely low fertility. Hong Kong and Singapore were to include Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic and the eastern part of Germany. In West Germany, however, the birth rate always remained slightly above that mark.

This trend gave rise to uncertainty. The rate would fall further and further? Threatened a "culture of low fertility," as the suspected demographer Wolfgang Lutz: Because birth rates, children disappear from everyday life, large families are no longer around in TV series before. This transformation of cultural norms leaves the child continue to fall, which will push back the birth rate - a downward spiral. Even the Pope took up these fears: "Europe seems to want no more children," he said at Christmas 2006, it seemed to "want to say goodbye to the story."

Joshua Goldstein, however, shows that the times of extremely low birth rates are over. Had in 2003 of 21 countries had a fertility rate below 1.3, in 2008 there were only five. Four of them are in Asia, one last, Moldova, Europe. In all other states, the curves indicate the top, not steep, but clear: "For the first time since the baby boom in the sixties the same time to take fertility in developed countries around the world," notes Goldstein. For example, in Spain: Was the birth rate in 1996, still at 1:19, they gradually rose to 2007 to 1.39. In almost all countries the trend towards this direction, now weaker, as in Italy, sometimes more, as in East Germany (1994: 0.77 children per woman, 2008: 1.40 children per woman had).

Goldstein is a bad demographer, when he finally broke out in jubilation over the blessing of children. For he knows that the birth rate is a lousy indicator: Your downward trend in the nineties was in part a measurement error, and the current upward trend has to do partly with the behavior of people. The birth rate is greatly distorted when women get their children later, perhaps because their training takes longer.

An example: In 2005 a thousand women, 170 women have kids. Demographers calculate its mathematical formula, with a birth rate of 1.4. When moving the year after only ten of the 170 women having children until later, the rate falls to 1.3 already. Get them in the second year after having children, the birth rate suddenly increases to 1.5. Ultimately, the number of children per woman is not altered.

Exactly that, Goldstein argued, had been done in the last decade: First, the rates fell because the women postponed having children. This trend is now severely curbed, so the curves no longer showed downward. In parallel, Goldstein notes that the policy works: All countries with low fertility rates will become politically counter. Sometimes, for example in Japan, this seems to fail. In other cases, however demonstrate successes: In Estonia, for example, significantly improved, a new parental allowance, the situation of young couples and had increased the number of births.

Even in Spain and Australia, the impact of the policy is visible - but of course the question remains as to the time: Come meet through family support actually more babies into the world - or is there also a "speed" effect, couples having children simply because they used to? Answering himself / herself only after a few decades, Goldstein notes, however, that political decisions and economic situation certainly affects. He expects that women will eventually get in the countries with very low fertility, on average, not 1.3, but 1.5 to 1.8 children.

If one takes this seriously, falls from the demographic disaster. Modeling of the Federal Statistical Office for a birth rate of 1.6 in any event not read dramatically: In 2030 in Germany would be about as many people live like today. The proportion of elderly people would rise moderately. And, amazingly, came to an even more children and young adults than it is today. The Germans, one can assume with Goldstein, die so quickly is not enough.

Author: Felix Berth
posted by snownoid at 5:25 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't wait to hear your opinion about women who stay at home all day and STILL decide to warehouse their kid in an all-day school! How selfish they must be!

Selfish? I'm not sure where you got that from.
Most schools in the U.S. after kindergarten are all day anyway, so unless someone is home-schooling, they don't have much of an option.

Which is a shame, because I think a model where kids are in school for a half-day and then are free to either be kids (or take different extracurriculars) would be worth exploring.
posted by madajb at 5:30 PM on January 20, 2010


So... you don't think it's selfish for women to choose to put their kid in an all-day school so that they can hold down a traditional job? You just think it's "the wrong choice"? But not selfishly wrong?
posted by muddgirl at 5:37 PM on January 20, 2010


Don't mess up perfectly good bloviating with your damn dirty experience! Or do, and tell us -- was it a good education? How do you figure that is done in half the time?

I thought it was a wonderful education! I experienced the German system and the U.S. system and still sing the praises of Germany's schools. In my mind it worked because you had every subject, every year -- at least in high school. When you don't have to cram all of, say, Chemistry (or Physics or European history or Latin) into one year, you can take it slowly and have it twice a week instead of three times. There's also the benefit of not forgetting a subject you haven't taken for years (say, biology, which is frequently taken in 8th or 9th grade in the States) it until it's reintroduced in college.

That left periods throughout the day/week to devote to arts and electives, but you also had bio, chem, physics, math, english, german, a history, etc. throughout the week. LOVE IT.
posted by Never teh Bride at 6:02 PM on January 20, 2010


msalt -- I'm sure that the German school system was very progressive when it was imtroduced in the nineteenth century century, which is some 300-400 years too late to be the feudal period in western Europe. (Eastern Europe is a different matter - and that feudalism is of a somewhat different model.)

My point was that the word feudalism has a meaning which is more than just a society with an aristocracy, as 19th century Germany was. The Uk still has an aristocracy after all, but it is not a feudal society. (The University of Cambridge is a different matter.) Medieval also has a meaning with isn't just "barbaric" or "stuff I don't like". This kind of misuse of the word feudalism is as ignorant as talking about arthritis as a communicable disease, and I'm annoyed, though not shocked, to see it in a professional publication.

(Please do not take my ire personally -- I realise that the words of your post are just taken from the article and your posting is a hobby. I'm annoyed that someone who is paid to work with words and to talk about history has been so sloppy.)
posted by jb at 6:20 PM on January 20, 2010


OK, thanks. I was thinking "What did I do?!?! What'd I say?!"
posted by msalt at 6:55 PM on January 20, 2010


So... you don't think it's selfish for women to choose to put their kid in an all-day school so that they can hold down a traditional job? You just think it's "the wrong choice"? But not selfishly wrong?

I wouldn't presume to judge someone's decision in that way.

But I do think that kids are better off spending time with their parents than not, and if someone's only motivation for all day school is so they can have a career, then they should reconsider.

I know that the article's focus is on women, but I want to make clear that half-day school could help men as well. I know some guys that would quite happily play in the park with their boys rather than be at the office.
posted by madajb at 7:45 PM on January 20, 2010


Why do we not insist that parents work half days and support them forthe other half. Seriously why is it about the 8 hour day that is at all good for us as a society. We should mandate a global 5 hour day. This would fix unemployment and ensure that people had enough time for family. Rather than lining the pockets of the barons of industry we should take our productivity gains and get more leisure time.
posted by humanfont at 8:08 PM on January 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


in Germany (...) mothering AND working is radical.
my mother would like you to know you don't know what you're talking about. (plus twenty expletives)

I'm fascinated by countries that are willing to elect women to top political positions, but seem to be behind the US in "everyday" women's rights.
having lived in the US and germany I'd think it would compare rather evenly.

WTF seriously?
I think that's true.

How is it possible that German kids attend school literally half as long as US schools, and yet Germany produced some of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century? Germany's economy is unstoppable.
I'll give you a hint: the first multiple choice test I ever took was in the United States at age 22 during my freshman year in college. I almost peed myself I was so giddy. to this day a few of my friends from that time keep telling folks about that time I got a multiple choice test and couldn't believe that it wasn't a joke.

On the other hand, Germany is one of those backward nations where homeschooling is illegal.
backwards? I think it's more that we think most parents are just unfit to school children, regardless of where they live.

It sounds from the articles like Germany's half-day schools have zero non-academic classes -- no art, no gym, no music.
no, that is not correct. I had tons of art, music, history, philosophy, phys ed and biology classes next to the usual full curriculum of german, english, latin, danish, politics, math, physics and chemistry. you just seem to have the same classes every day whereas I would have a schedule that differed from day to day.

We pride ourselves as an immigrant culture,
yeah, but it's a sham. 50,000 h-1 visas per year is nothing. I haven't managed to win that greencard lottery in the ten years I took part in it and I'm not low enough to be comfortable with a sham marriage. Turks are a special case: many of them would be eligible for citizenship but can't take it because we only very rarely permit dual citizenship. They often don't want to renounce their turkish citizenship because only citizens can inherit land in turkey.
posted by krautland at 8:24 PM on January 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Interesting article, interesting thread.

I will say that my kid (currently in a German school) loves the Hort (a word coughed more than spoken) and on the days when I do pick him up after lunch he often asks to stay. The Hort is loosely supervised hang out and play-with-your-friends time - what kid wouldn't want that? I know I would have loved that as a kid.

How is it possible that German kids attend school literally half as long as US schools... I met someone who was getting their high school diploma but late - as part of the diploma he had to learn latin, one other language and the usual host of science, math and lit.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:21 AM on January 21, 2010


How is it possible that German kids attend school literally half as long as US schools
Actually, there is an extra year in Germany to make up for all those half days. Kids finish highschool after "13th grade" at around age 19-20.

Same goes for university - as it was already pointed out above, most Germans finish their degree at around age 27-28.

Many then get ein shock when they get accepted to a graduate school in the UK or the States - their classmates are 22-23 while the Germans are approaching 30.

Different strokes. *shrug
posted by ruelle at 1:59 AM on January 21, 2010


It's more complicated than that, secondary education in the US and Germany differs so much that it is hard to compare them. Depending on the type of school and state, students graduate after, 9, 10, 12 or 13 years. Only the degree you get after 12/13 years entitles you to attend a university. Bachelor's degrees aren't worth anything in Germany, so almost everyone stays at university for 5 years to get their Master's degree. So, in theory, you can graduate with a Master's when you're 23 and a PhD when you're 26.
Going to grad school in the US is actually a bit of a waste of time if you're German, because you spend two years doing another Master's degree.
posted by snownoid at 4:15 AM on January 21, 2010


yeah, but it's a sham. 50,000 h-1 visas per year is nothing.

Yeah, but you know that h-1 visas aren't the only ways that people legally immigrate to the U.S., right? As was said upthread, As of 2006, the United States accepts more legal immigrants as permanent residents than any other country in the world.[1] In 2006, the number of immigrants totaled 37.5 million.[2][3]

A record 1,046,539 persons were naturalized as U.S. citizens in 2008. The leading countries of birth of the new citizens were Mexico, India and the Philippines.[4]
*
posted by rtha at 5:11 AM on January 21, 2010


I went to a half-day school in Berlin and we had art, music, (way too much) gym, elective languages, etc. There was no lack of extra-curriculars!

Oops! I got that from the slideshow voiceover, which said that the new, all-day schools were including extra-curriculars like music, which traditionally the mothers were expected to take care of in the afternoon.
posted by palliser at 5:48 AM on January 21, 2010


When I lived in Germany, my host-mother was the director of a kindergarten that certainly ran all day. I had no idea that this wasn't the norm as it certainly wasn't a big deal in the town at all (Northwest Germany, Ammerland province to be specific). Also, my aunt taught fifth and sixth grade English and History in a school (in the same region) that definitely had afternoon classes.

It should also be mentioned that the German work day in general stops at 1230 to allow for the traditional family meal to be eaten in the middle of the day. Kids go home from school, parents go home from work, everybody eats, and then everybody goes back. The hour from 1230-130 is sacred ground and almost everybody is at home.

Just shedding a little light on the very large break between morning/afternoon scheduling in Germany. Since you're going home for lunch anyway, if you're working part-time, it just makes the most sense to stay home. Same with part-time schooling - since kids (and they really do) go home for lunch, seems easiest to just stay there.

Stop. This completely blows my mind.

How is it possible that German kids attend school literally half as long as US schools, and yet Germany produced some of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century?


Their classes are intense. Hour long classes three times a week in most subjects and insane, INSANE amounts of homework. Also, only the "smart" kids go to upper-level high school. Anyone seen as not able to handle the Abitur is put into a lower level Hauptschule or the mid-level Realschule. The Abitur is brutal, most of the German kids I know failed it - I only know one or two who actually passed. You have to go to a Gymnasium to take the Abitur, and you have to have passed the Abitur to go to a German University. Essentially, your chances of going to University are decided for you at age 12.

So, their system is fucked up in a totally different way than ours. Great for you if you happen to display brilliance by age 12, otherwise, you've got no opportunity to redeem yourself later. There are no re-evaluations and you are 100% stuck in whatever school you end up in.

(Witnessed first hand through my aunt's career and my experience in Germany. Your anecdotal evidence may vary.)

What is the US doing so wrong? Does the US approach burn children out on school so early that by the time they reach high school, they've had enough?

Quite the opposite. The US teaches highschool heterogenously so that everybody has the same opportunity. In Germany, you get advanced education, but only if you already performed well by age 12. The pressure is immense and I wouldn't be surprised if German kids really were "burnt out" by 13.

Actually, there is an extra year in Germany to make up for all those half days. Kids finish highschool after "13th grade" at around age 19-20.

This too. Though remember, these are only the kids who tested into Gymnasium when they were pre-teens.

And yes, there are Saturday classes, though I forget that that's abnormal since I went to a private school in the US with Saturday classes.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:05 AM on January 21, 2010


Why do we not insist that parents work half days and support them forthe other half. Seriously why is it about the 8 hour day that is at all good for us as a society. We should mandate a global 5 hour day. This would fix unemployment and ensure that people had enough time for family.

You could always get a part-time job. No one is forcing you to work full-time.
posted by anniecat at 10:12 AM on January 21, 2010


Wait a minute. Isn't it in Germany where they built a special prison for the elderly who were pensioners who couldn't live on their pensions and started stealing?
posted by anniecat at 10:14 AM on January 21, 2010


Yeah, but you know that h-1 visas aren't the only ways that people legally immigrate to the U.S., right?
marriage and birth right make up for a lot. you can almost forget other visas. the O-1, which I had, was (according to my attorney) given to less than 5,000 folks each year at that time. miniscule, if you think of the percentage.

So, their system is fucked up in a totally different way than ours. Great for you if you happen to display brilliance by age 12, otherwise, you've got no opportunity to redeem yourself later. There are no re-evaluations and you are 100% stuck in whatever school you end up in.

yes, you do get evaluated and sent on a track at age 12 but there is a way to transfer to a higher school if you like and there are ways to top off a lower education like Haupt- or Realschule through Berufsschulen, which can give you the Fachhochschulreife, which would allow you to go to college, or even Abitur. you are also forgetting evening high schools for professionals. that track is often called the Ochsentour (ochs tour) because doing the insane german courseload after work is even more difficult but lots of folks do it and gain admission to colleges and universities that way. the evening high school route is actually a very respected route because you need to have serious drive to make it through that.

also: your school only recommends which track you should go into after fourth grade. your parents have the final say.

Wait a minute. Isn't it in Germany where they built a special prison for the elderly who were pensioners who couldn't live on their pensions and started stealing?
germany is the country of chocolate and beer.
posted by krautland at 9:36 PM on January 21, 2010


I'll go with beer, but I have seen few cocoa plants growing along the Rhine.

Thinking of chocolate as European in any way is pure colonialism. Chocolate is a New World crop which is now primarily grown in Central America & Africa. It's as European as potatoes, which is to say, not at all.
posted by GuyZero at 9:35 AM on January 22, 2010


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