Jueves 11 de Abril de 2002, Ip nš 12

Almost half of all European children were born of single, separated or divorced parents
Por Sarah Lyall

As a reflection of the radical changes in the concept of family, more and more European children are born outside the traditional familiar context thus joining the new social order spreading over the continent, where, at least apparently, old dogmas don't count anymore.

In Norway, 49% of all births in 1999 were registered by single parents. In Iceland, this number rose to 62%. In France, it was 41%, and in the UK, 38%. Even in Ireland, a deeply catholic country where divorce was only legalized seven years ago, about 31% of official births in 1999 took place outside the marital frame (a figure equivalent to those stated by the US registries).

This does not imply that marriage in Europe is an obsolete institution. Most Europeans still marry at some point in their lives and, after the decrease the marriage rate experimented in the 90's, in some countries it is beginning to rise again. However, due to a different attitude regarding religion and the role of individuals and the State, the question of when to (or whether one must) marry are more and more considered personal choices free from the community's, the family's or the church's moral judgements.

While family metamorphosed, the groups representing single parents became a powerful political force all around Europe. In many European countries social plans are specifically destined to guarantee that all children are given the same financial benefits and are treated equally under the law, regardless their parents are married, live together, are separated, divorced or single.

Besides, the policies implemented over the last 20 years by the majority of European governments have generated legislation that states that children born outside marital context should have the same rights regarding heritage as the rest. Being favored by policies that grant them important financial advantages, single mothers live much more comfortably in Europe than in the US, where from 45% to 50% of single mothers live under the poverty line.

  01/04/2002. The New York Times.