Recently I had the chance to meet with Vladislav Matej (Family Counselor with Socia) in Bratislava. He outlined a set of recent sociological studies on European values and family trends. Here are some of the highlights from Vladislav Matej.
Prof. Jan Kerkhofs, University of Louwen, Belgium reported a longitudinal 20-year study of European values. There were five primary shifts:
- Ethics have entered the autonomous sphere (individually determined)
- Ethical norms are influenced and created by parliaments and not by churches anymore (there are lots of examples of this)
- There is a high tolerance to the actions of individuals
- Individual ethics are limited by the freedom of other individuals
There has been a primary movement toward individualism, post-traditionalism, tolerance, and pessimism.
A report (D. Popeone, sociologist) shows correlating trends between the occurance of the sexual revolution, a rapid decrease of fertility, and a rapid increase of divorce.
A study by G.T. Stanton has found a rapid increase of cohabiting couples (not married) and several trends within these households: an increase in disturbing and painful relationships, an increase of interferance of the successful formation of follow-up partnerships (not sure what this means), an increase of conflict, an increase of domestic violence, and a strengthening of mistrust.
The following stats are taken from Eurostat. The average age of men/women at first marriage in 1980 was 26/23. In 2003 it was 30/28. The percent of children born outside of marriage in 1980 was 8.8%. In 2005 it was 33%. In 1980 the number of divorces that occured in Europe was 672,917. In 2005 it was 1,042,892. Today, 2/3 of households in the EU live without children. 16% of families have one child, 13% have two children, and 4% have three children. In the next fifty years, the population of the US is expected to increase by 150 million. In Europe it is expected to decrease by 40 million.