The crisis of values and institutions in today’s society could not leave her unaffected Greek family.
In recent years, significant changes have been recorded in its structure and in the institution of marriage. Young people seem to be in no rush to start a family of their own as they focus on career advancement.
The transition from the traditional to the nuclear family
In research conducted in the Greek area, it was found that the transition from the traditional to the nuclear family had the consequences of a) the change of values from collective to individualistic, b) the fact that the residents of urban centers embrace and respect traditional values less, and c) that the values associated with the traditional family are a cause of conflict among its members (Georgas, 1993).
Given that the family is the first school of life as within its narrow core its members acquire social virtues, are taught moral values, shape and cultivate their character, it becomes clear that these are affected in various ways by any change in its core.
Therefore, the proper functioning of a society depends on maintaining a stable, safe, peaceful family life.
Institution of marriage
The changes that directly affect the formation and shaping of the modern family, the family of the post-industrial era, are directly related to the changes that have occurred in the institution of marriage.
Specifically, in the context of marriage, a clear trend has been observed in recent decades decrease in births (which is more evident from 1980 onwards), but also a decrease in the number of marriages, as well as an increase in the average age of women at first marriage, a lengthening of the period between marriage and the birth of the first child, and an increase in number of divorces and remarriages.
In addition to all of the above, in recent years there has been an increase in the number of couples living together outside of marriage. Also, there are changes in the structure of the family. More specifically, the number, size, configuration and composition of households has changed. Thus, from the “crisis of the family” we pass to “new models of family organization” (Kogidou, 1995).
Family : Exogenous influences
The rapid development of technology and every form of communication seems to affect the way the family functions. Research shows that teenagers’ participation and exposure to social media directly affects their psychology and can even lead to the emergence of psychological problems. They compare themselves both to people around them and to people they follow and feel disadvantaged. This process of comparison that takes place often does not leave parents unaffected either, who feel disadvantaged, that they have not achieved something important or that they cannot have what they admire so much on social media.
The standards as well as the lifestyle that is projected are usually not filtered, with the result that the relationship of the family members is affected.
Financial difficulties and lack of time
A new important characteristic of the modern Greek family is the reduction of its capacity. On average, parents today have one child. The decline in family members is not independent of wider social, political and cultural conditions. Couples cite lack of financial resources and lack of time as the main reason.
After all, it is a fact that most of the time that parents dedicate to their children is usually on weekends, as everyone’s schedule is full on weekdays.
At the same time, the woman is charged with a multitude of responsibilities as she is a wife, mother, worker. He has to respond to many different roles and in order to cope he sets priorities.
In the midst of the crisis, increase in unemployment and economic uncertainty have led couples to delay having their first child and to postpone having a second or third child. The search for and utilization of employment opportunities for both sexes has not been accompanied by the development of adequate benefits, as well as structures and services of the welfare state to support the family.
As a result, Greek women have fewer children.
The phenomenon of very low fertility of course it is not new, nor only Greek. Since the 90s already across Europe there has been a significant decline in fertility rates. Almost everywhere, women began to postpone the births of their children until later, with the result that the fertility in the countries of the European Union in the period 1998-1999 fell to 1.44 children per woman – and in some countries even below the so-called ” limit of extremely low fertility”, which is 1.3 children per woman. At the end of the last century, for the first time in post-war history, no EU country had no fertility above 2 children per woman. This was true even in countries like Ireland, where just a decade ago fertility was over 2.5 children per woman.
Now Greek women have their first child on average in age of 30.3 years (in 2016 – from 28.8 in 2008). The corresponding average in the EU it is 29 years. Almost one in three births in our country is carried out by women aged 30-34 and one in four by women aged 35-39. Greece also has one of the highest percentages of first births to mothers over 40 in Europe (5.3%). This postponement of childbearing and having the first child very naturally reduces the chances of having a second or third child as well.
According to Greek statistical authoritybirths in Greece in 2020 amounted to 84,767 (43,534 boys and 41,233 girls) registering a slight increase of 1.2% compared to 2019 which was 83,763 (42,945 boys and 40,818 girls) while marriages in 2020 were 31,475 (11,935 religious and 19,540 political) presenting a decrease of 33.2% compared to 2019, during which 47,137 (23,278 religious and 23,859 political) had been carried out.
How can the Greek family be supported?
Internationally, family support policies typically have six objectives:
- Poverty reduction and income support
- Direct compensation for the financial costs of the children
- Promotion of employment, especially for women
- Greater gender equality
- Early childhood development support
- Increase in fertility
In general, family policy measures should generally aim to increase family income. This is an important factor – when a family’s immediate needs are met, anxiety about the future is reduced and the decision to have children becomes easier.
In addition and in the same context, the high cost of child care and upbringing must be addressed, while family life must also be supported, limiting the sacrifices in the professional and personal matters that parents are required to make.
The goal is for couples – and especially new couples – who wish to have a child to be able to make the decision earlier so that they have more room, if they want, to have a second or even a third in the future.
In our country, a research by diaNEOSis carried out by a group of researchers of the National Center for Social Research (EKKE), with the coordinator and scientific manager of EKKE Research Director Mr. Dionysis Balourdos, underlines that the lack of affordable and accessible care services should be combated and education of children, to readjust the low levels of economic benefits and allowances and the short parental leaves with low benefits and to abolish policies that discriminate between the two sexes, leading Greek women to the conclusion that it is difficult to combine employment with motherhood.
With data from: dianeosis.org, okto.com.gr, statistics.gr
*first publication 15/05/2022