DO IT FOR DENMARK must be meeting expectations as SPAIN has appointed a Minister For Sax. Spain this week announced it has appointed a Sax Tsar, who will be charged with addressing the country’s “catastrophically low” birth rate. Also remember AUSTRALIA’s CASH FOR KIDS which Treasurer Peter Costello summarized as ”ONE FOR MOM, ONE FOR DAD AND ONE FOR THE COUNTRY” which has far exceeded expectations, if you know what we mean. Don’t get too comfy Aussies, Danes, Spaniards. THE SWEDES ARE COMING.
Young Spanish couples are apparently too tired to give a …. with long days at work and too many late nights being blamed for what experts say is one of the lowest birth rates in the developed world.
Not only is the birth rate for Spanish women aged 18 to 49 years just 1.3 children — well below the European Union level of 1.58 — but for the first time last year there were fewer births than deaths.
In fact, Spain’s birth rate has fallen by 18 per cent since 2008, while the number of childless couples has tripled from 1.5 to 4.4 million between 1977 and 2015.
Spain’s new sax position has been filled by Galician senator and demographics expert Edelmira Barreira who, with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, will draft a document for “a national strategy of demographic imbalances”.
So, it’s not necessarily a lights-down-saxy answer to get this problem licked as yet.
Paid time off… for saxy times
One solution that Spanish may consider has recently been proposed in Sweden — paid sax breaks. Forget catfooting around with a strategic document, the Swedish town of Overtornea last week announced a proposal to give the municipality’s 550 employees paid time off to get busy.
As with Spain and other developed countries, Sweden’s fertility rate has been gradually falling for the past several decades, with Overtornea’s population dropping from 5,229 in 2005 to 4,711 10 years later.
However, it seems this Swedish town is really pinpointing sax and overall well being as their prime reason for allowing time off for more than tea and crumpet. Not just baby-making.
“There are studies that show sax is healthy,” said Per-Erik Muskos, a councilman at Overtornea, adding that couples in Sweden weren’t spending enough time together. “It’s about having better relationships.”
As titillating as a plan for paid sax breaks sounds, it is actually just adding sax to the already existing right for Swedes to have work breaks to exercise.
Yep, they already get one paid hour off each week to work out.
As Mr Muskos said, sax is a form of exercise “and has documented positive effects on well-being”.
Of course, this assumes one has someone to have sax with — it is not clear whether the fine print allows cruising or swiping for partners as part of this paid break.
So — and most importantly — will it work?
In terms of promoting general wellbeing and relationships, the Australian Government certainly thinks so.
The government-owned website Health Direct lists the benefits of sax as being good for the heart, lowering blood pressure and strengthening the immune system.
And, in terms of creating a baby boom, it appears greater education and awareness does indeed do the job.
Or at least it seems to in Denmark which — not content with populating the world by stealth through its status as the leading sperm donors —attempted to bolster its population through a campaign called “Do it for Denmark”.
The series of ads encouraged Danes to procreate, using lines such as: “Screw for Denmark” and “Do it for Mom” and asking if people had “counted their eggs today”.
The campaign was reportedly successful, with 1,200 more babies estimated to be born by late 2016 — the first increase in births since 2010.
Of course, the Spaniards could just borrow from the rather more transactional Australian approach of “cash for kids”.
Many may remember — or cannot forget — former treasurer Peter Costello’s directive for Aussies to have ”one for mum, one for dad and one for the country” when he introduced the since-axed baby bonus in 2002. A Melbourne Institute study found this policy worked, with the fertility rate increasing by 3.2 per cent between 2004 and 2006.
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