Austria Would Prefer Not To

Earlier this year, Eurobarometer started asking members what they thought about future EU expansion. The results (which can be found here, as a pdf) were pretty interesting.

52% of Europeans support membership for Croatia, while only 34% oppose it. (War criminals? What war criminals?) And 50% support membership for Bulgaria. But only 45% support Romania coming in. Which is a bit embarrassing, given that the EU has already firmly committed to Romanian membership, even if it might be delayed for a year.

Still, the Romanians can take comfort; they’re well ahead of Serbia (40%), Albania (36%) and Turkey (dead last, with 35% of Europeans supporting Turkish membership and 52% against).

Where this gets interesting — in a Eurovision-y sort of way — is when you start to break it down by country.

(If you want to see all the gritty details, open that .pdf file and scroll down to the last 10 pages or so.)

Broadly speaking, support for further enlargement of the EU is strongest in the ten New Member States (NMS, for short). When asked if EU enlargement in general was a good idea, 76% of Poles, 79% of Slovenes and 66% of Hungarians said “yes”. Only 33% of Germans, 32% of French and 31% of Austrians agreed. Europe as a whole is split exactly down the middle on enlargement — 50% of Europeans think it’s a good idea — but there’s a whopping difference between the 15 old Member States and the 10 new ones: 43% vs. 70%.

And when you start asking about particular states, once again the old/new split is very clear. No matter which potential member is under discussion, the New Ten are more enthusiastic than the Old Fifteen.

Croatia? 48% of respondents in the EU-15 say yes, but 72% in the NMS. Bulgaria? 46% and 70% respectively. Even the Romanians get a 58% rating from the new EU members… as opposed to a less-good 43% from the EU-15.

And Turkey? 48% of respondents in the NMS think Turkey should be a member. That’s pretty high. Of course, it has to be balanced against a 32% “yes” vote in the EU-15.

Looking even more closely, we find some odd connections. Who’s giving whom the coveted douze? Well, for Croatia, the biggest supporters are the Slovenes, the Slovaks, the Hungarians and the Czechs — all over 75%. One could almost believe in Habsburg nostalgia! (But probably not. All those countries are big investors in Croatia.) The biggest anti-Croat votes? The Germans, with just 42% in favor and 51% agains. Which is interesting, given German support for Croatia’s independence, back when.

For Bulgaria, the big boosters are Poles, Slovaks, and Slovenes — all over 70% “yes” — with Swedes, Lithuanians, Czechs and Cypriots also pretty enthusiastic at 65% or higher. Slav-on-Slav love may explain some of this, with the Orthodox Cypriots rooting for another Orthodox country, but why are the Swedes and Lithuanians so Bulgarophilic? Whatever the magic is, it doesn’t work on the Germans (35% “yes”, 59% “no”) or the Austrians (21% “yes”, 68% “no”).

(Still, overall Bulgaria seems to be surprisingly popular. It seems Bulgaria has somehow crept into our hearts. Go figure.)

Romania? Mad props from the Cypriots and Slovenes at 70% or more, and solid support as well from the Swedes, Slovaks, Poles and Greeks. But poor Romania gets little love from France (43% “yes”, 48% “no”). Pretty sad, given that Romania has traditionally looked to France as a friend and role model; perhaps Romanian support for the US on the Iraq war made a lasting impression, there. And as for Austria and Germany… well, only 28% of Germans and 17% of Austrians support Romanian accession, while clear majorities in both countries oppose it.

Turkey? Hoo boy. Nobody’s very enthusiastic about Turkish membership, but at least they get a majority “yes” in Poland and Slovakia, and plurality “yes” votes — under 50%, but still higher than the “no” — in Spain, Sweden, Ireland, Latvia, Hungary, Portugal, Belgium, and Great Britain.

(Yah, that’s right… 45% of Brits said “yes” to Turkish membership, while only 37% said no. Interesting, no? But then, when it comes to expansion, Britain is weird. The Brits dislike the idea of expansion — only 48% support it, less than the EU average — but they like all the individual applicants quite a lot. Go figure.)

On the other hand: very firm “no” votes from Germany, France, Greece, Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg, and Austria. With the French at 70/21, and the Germans at 74/20, there’s clearly some very serious resistance to Turkish accession.

What’s interesting is that almost everyone varies at least occasionally. The French may be very down on the Turks, but they’re cool with Bulgaria. Most countries have no interest in letting Albania in the club, but the Slovenes and the Maltese are all for it. (Small country bias?) The Swedes are mostly pro-expansion, but get cold feet when it comes to Turkey. The Spanish and the Portuguese seem to be the mirror image of the Brits… they like expansion in the abstract (56% support) but get nervous about some of the new members in particular.

Still, some patterns emerge. Sweden and Great Britain are the most pro-expansion among the EU-15. Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia stand out among the NMS, with the Hungarians and Czechs a bit more cautious, and the Cypriots and Maltese seeming to vote some sort of perceived national agenda. Germany, Luxembourg, France and Austria are most strongly against expansion, both in general and in specific.

The most anti-expansion country in Europe? Austria. They’re consistent almost across the board: they don’t want EU expansion either in general or in specific.

Oh, they have a bit of a soft spot for Croatia… 45% would support Croatian membership, 46% against it. Sentimentality for the old Habsburg connection; or, perhaps, the fact that Austria has a lot of money invested in Croatia, and no other cheap beaches within reach. Still, it’s a net “nein”.

And when you ask Austrians about other potential members… phew:

Bulgaria
– Yes 21% No 68%
Serbia
– Yes 19% No 69%
Romania
– Yes 17% No 73%
Albania
– Yes 13% No 77%
Turkey
– Yes 10% No 80%

Defenders of Christendom, anyone?

35 thoughts on “Austria Would Prefer Not To

  1. It’s especially weird, and depressing, because Austria stands to be one of the biggest economic gainers from expansion – when I was there in 2001-2002, huge construction projects were erupting all over the eastern side of Vienna in readiness for enlargement.

  2. I know it was just a throwaway line about Croatia, but I definitely consider the destruction of Kurdish villages and expulsion/killings of their inhabitants in eastern Turkey war crimes, and I’m fairly certain the perpetrators are still around in Turkey. So by that standard, there are still war criminals in the Turkish armed forces, and possibly even in the state bureaucracy.

    I know it gets short shrift here, but it is perfectly possible to oppose Turkish accession to the EU for profoundly liberal reasons on the basis of respect for human dignity and human rights.

  3. There’s another interesting fact in that document that relates back to your “war criminals” comment: Croatians have the most negative view of the EU out of any EU country or accession candidate – only 28% have a positive view, on a par with the notoriously eurosceptic UK. And this compares to the 57% amongst their Slovenian neighbours, and over 60% for Bulgaria, Romania, and Northern Cyprus. Does this suggest that if we keep on pushing the war crimes issue the Croatians may eventually reject the EU before it gets a chance to reject them?

  4. Alex, I really don’t know what the heck is up with Austria.

    Hektor, yes, it’s perfectly possible to oppose Turkish accession to the EU for liberal reasons. But remember that we’re talking about accession 10 or more years from now. Turkey has made a lot of progress on human rights in the five or six years. If they continue to improve, they should be given appropriate consideration.

    By the same token, if Croatia comes clean, I’d support their bid. I’m not holding my breath, though.

    Does this suggest that if we keep on pushing the war crimes issue the Croatians may eventually reject the EU before it gets a chance to reject them?

    I’d be good with that.

    But Croatian surliness towards the EU is very recent. In fact, it’s basically since the Gotovina thing blew up this past March. Before that, a clear majority of Croatians were quite strongly in favor of EU membership.

    Basically, they’re sulking.

    Doug M.

  5. Turkey has made a lot of progress on human rights in the five or six years. If they continue to improve, they should be given appropriate consideration.

    Orhan Pamuk disagrees.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/09/11/wturk11.xml&sSheet=/portal/2005/09/11/ixportal.html

    An internationally acclaimed Turkish novelist who faces prosecution for speaking out about the mass slaughter of Armenians last century has said the case against him shows his country may not be ready to join the European Union.

    Orhan Pamuk, who faces up to three years in jail if convicted at his trial in December of “denigrating Turkey”, said that reforms promised by the Turkish government in return for a guarantee of talks on EU membership had not materialised.

    Prosecutors provoked a furore across Europe last month by announcing the action against him under the country’s recently adopted penal code, which is supposed to bring Turkish criminal law more closely into line with that of EU countries.

    In his first interview since the prosecution was announced, Pamuk declared: “Unfortunately I do not believe that Turkey has come very far in this respect. Nothing has happened over the past year. Turkey has sat on the promises that Europe has given and taken it easy.”

    Although forbidden to comment directly on his own case, the best-selling author added: “Turkey has not changed so much. Laws have been changed, but the thought processes, our culture and our way of seeing things… that has not changed much.

    “There have been legal and political changes in the hope of EU membership. But the trial opened against me shows… that the state prosecutors have not changed very much. It shows that there is not much tolerance in society.”

  6. Not a big surprise that the two countries most critical of the EU – Sweden and Great Britain – also are the ones favoring expansion, I think. I mean, it is a way to make a bigger market more than a deepened committment.

    Also, as a Swede I well remember the No-side’s argumentatioon back in the 90′s when we were to vote on joining. The EU was often portrayed as a “rich club” where poor East Europeans were unfairly left out, so one should vote “No” for reasons of solidarity because the EU wasn’t all of Europe.

    (The same No-Side could two minutes later advocate a deeper Nordic cooperation. Rich clubs, huh?)

    Ironically, that still means the old no-side in Sweden while disliking the EU defends expansion (if not solidification)of the EU.

  7. Well, I can think of two additional reasons for these poll results.

    1) The EU and national governments raced ahead with enlargement in the past 10-15 years without bringing the EU-house in order first. The whole EU administration /”constitution” part. Including convincing the voters in their respective countries why it was a good idea. Not to mention on NOT agreeing on how to pay for enlargement before enlargement happened. They just went ahead and trusted that somehow the facts on the ground then would force all countries to agree on something.

    How is the EU supposed to work with 30+ countries?
    Nobody knows right now.
    And then money.
    Simply put the “old” EU15 countries are either net-payers now or will become net-payers in the future with the candidate countries mentioned in your post. Notice that a majority even in the old EU15 countries would support a EU membership of Switzerland, Norway or Iceland. Probably because they´re “rich” countries? Not needing EU funds might be one reason?

    2) Turkey.
    Large population giving it a huge influence in the EU, a relatively “poor” country and borders with the Near East and the Caucasus trouble spots. Given the unsolved problems mentioned in point 1) how can one trust “our” governments to do it right this time?
    Discussing and solving the problems before agreeing to additional enlargement?

    What is the EU supposed to become?
    A huge free-trade zone?
    In that case I – being a German – want my money back! I didn´t notice that the USA and Canada are paying for the Mexican infrastructure since they founded CAFTA.

    Something more that a free-trade zone? More integration?
    That was difficult even with the old EU15. Even back then Great Britain wasn´t very enthusiastic about that idea. And how is that supposed to work now with 25 or 30 countries?

  8. “I know it gets short shrift here, but it is perfectly possible to oppose Turkish accession to the EU for profoundly liberal reasons on the basis of respect for human dignity and human rights.”

    Hektor,

    I may have given ‘short shrift’ to your argument that demographic forecasting has not improved in the last 50 years, but I have never given short shrift to the idea that it is possible to oppose accession for the profoundly liberal reasons you mention.

    In fact I myself agree with these objections: Turkey should not be admitted to the EU if the issues of respect for human dignity and human rights are not resolved. This was the case with Greece, it was the case with Spain etc etc.

    This issue really between us isn’t whether Turkey should be admitted if she does not comply, but whether decade long negotiations should get off the ground or not.

    If the issue is the liberal human rights one then I think they should (I understand that you may not, and I respect that position while disagreeing with it) but another issue has now appeared, and it is the one highlighted in Doug’s post: more than 70% of those interviewed in Germany and France were found to oppose Turkish membership. There is still no clear breakdown of why people are opposed (and indeed some opinions seem flatly contradictory: see my post on the German Marshall Fund survey), but we can imagine that there are issues other than the liberal ones which influence these numbers.

    I think therefore that there is the additional issue of credibility of the EU institutions before their own citizens in play here. I think you cannot simply press ahead with membership if there is such strong resistance. But like I said, this is going to last at least 10 years (Rehn yesterday spoke of a minimum of 10 to 15 years, so the horizon is extending) and, of course, one hell of a lot of water can go under the proverbial bridge during that time frame.

  9. “What is the EU supposed to become?
    A huge free-trade zone?
    In that case I – being a German – want my money back! I didn´t notice that the USA and Canada are paying for the Mexican infrastructure since they founded CAFTA.”

    I think this is an interesting argument, and of course, it gives a whole new meaning to the expression ‘moral hazard’.

  10. “Orhan Pamuk disagrees.”

    Yes Randy, well both you and I know that already, since we both posted on it. But this isn’t exactly what Pamuk is saying.

    What he seems to be saying is this:

    “Laws have been changed, but the thought processes, our culture and our way of seeing things… that has not changed much.”

    So this is really the issue, how do you change thought processes, culture, ways of seeing things? Well modernisation and economic development would be one of the ways, and this is the road that I personally would go for. As I recently suggested in another comment thread changing the mindset certainly seems to be more doable in Turkey than it is in Iraq.

    Olli Rehn came out with some interesting stuff on this yesterday.

    The official in charge of European Union expansion accused Turkey of provocation on Tuesday, saying it was no coincidence that the trial of a Turkish novelist would clash with a EU summit.

    Olli Rehn, the EU commissioner overseeing expansion plans, said the prosecution of author Orhan Pamuk violated a human rights convention.

    He also said it would take at least 10-15 years to finish negotiations with Turkey on its possible accession to the bloc, and warned Ankara that the pace of the talks will depend on how quickly it recognizes Cyprus.

    “The Pamuk case raises serious questions about the interpretation of Turkey’s new penal code. The Dec. 16 date can’t be just a coincidence, it has to be a provocation,” Rehn told the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee. Dec. 16 is also the date of an EU summit.

    Rehn added that the case violated the European Convention on Human Rights.
    JAN SLIVA, Associated Press Writer

    At the formal level the whole issue seems to revolve around a clause on national identity in the new penal code. Clearly, in the negotiations, the EU representatives will press to get this clause changed. I don’t see how anyone could contemplate membership without it being removed.

    But the issue of ‘provocation’ is an interesting one. Just who is provoking, and why. Clearly these are elements in Turkey who are resisting change, and who are now resisting the EU as one of the motors of change. So I think we need cool heads and clear thinking here.

  11. The BBC covers the Pamuk case and Rehn’s appearance in the European Parliament:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4243102.stm

    Of course one interesting possible outcome is that Pamuk is found not guilty. I don’t know enough about Turkish law, and even less about the details and interpretation of the new penal code. But supposing the judges decide (and presumeably Turkey has a constitutional court, so this could go all the way up) that the national identity clause cannot be interpreted in the way the public prosecutor suggests, would this then mean that Turkey *was* making progress on human rights? What I mean is: is the argument that Turkey should not be negotiated with because she is not making progress on human rights symmetrical and testable?

  12. Edward,

    I think this is an interesting argument, and of course, it gives a whole new meaning to the expression ‘moral hazard’.

    I know I was exagerating but one reason for all the different EU funds (not the CAP of course) was/is the “ever closer Union” term. Implicating that the EU needs to help the poorer member countries and regions (infrastructure, education modernisation etc.) to get them closer to the EU average.

    That is perfectly fine as long as we´re speaking about something “more” than a free-trade zone. If the EU however degenerates to “only” that, then it will be very difficult to convince taxpayers of paying more and more money to the EU.
    IIRC that was one reason why the Dutch voted against the EU “constitution”. Being the biggest net-payers per capita.
    In that case, more and more governments will copy the British (Thatcher) battle cry: “I want my money back!” Or saying we don´t want to pay one cent more. Which had already happened for the proposed 2007-2013 EU budget (several countries trying to restrict EU spending to 1% of EU gross national product).

    How then is further enlargement possible?
    With (for the public):
    No clear idea what the EU is supposed to become.
    No clear political structure.
    Enlargement vs integration?
    Where are the “natural” borders of the EU?
    How to pay for the EU?

    With every enlargement these questions will be more difficult to answer/negotiate between the member states.

  13. How then is further enlargement possible?

    How was the previous enlargement possible?

    Romania and Bulgaria are coming, Detlef. They’ll be in the Union by 2008 at the latest. Croatia will probably be just a couple of years behind them.

    And the world will not end.

    Where are the “natural” borders of the EU?

    Is this really a meaningful question? I mean, most nations don’t have “natural” boudaries. So why should a collection of 27 nations?

    Note that the EU already includes Ceuta and Melilla in Africa, the Canary Islands, and French Polynesia, but not Switzerland or Norway.

    How to pay for the EU?

    This is not really a question. Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria are not going to place that big a burden on EU finances.

    The idea that the EU may degenerate into “a huge free-trade zone” is interesting. Obviously nothing like this is going to happen, but it seems to be a code phrase for “this isn’t the EU we wanted”. Makes me wonder how much of the opposition to EU expansion — and I’m talking the relatively modest expansion under way now, not Turkey — is coming from disappointed “deepeners”.

    Doug M.

  14. Edward,

    I think there are clear metrics for improvement in Turkish human rights. The Pamuk case is important only as a symbol. Letting internally displaced Kurds return to their destroyed villages might be a good first step. Another one might be allowing public education in Kurdish. Another one might be relaxing the extremely strict regulation of non Sunni religions that still exist in Turkey. A real attempt to end police torture is another possible one. Finally, the army could restrain itself from killing Kurdish civilians whenever the conflict with the KADEK heats up. Bringing to book army officers involved in ethnic cleansing might be another one, along with people in the bureaucracy. Some recognition of the Armenian genocide is another one.

    These are all relatively simple steps that do not threaten the Turkish state, but the current government and society of Turkey are unwilling to make these steps.

    So at least in my estimation, Turkey is far behind Croatia, which at least does not seem to have ethnic cleansers still in the army in positions of influence.

    You misunderstand my position, however. I think negotiations should start, but they obviously can’t go anywhere serious until Turkey recognizes Cyprus and makes a real effort to improve human rights.

    What I suspect however, is that your commitment to human rights is inferior to your ideologically-based need to admit Turkey based on long-scale demographic projections and desire for large-scale social engineering. Basically, I believe you will respect human rights only in the breach. The reason I say that is that you can’t even bring yourself to really list the human rights problems Turkey has or discuss them in detail. They will all automagically resolve themselves with development, which is essentially a variant of market fundamentalism.

  15. “You misunderstand my position, however. I think negotiations should start”

    Hektor we agree, let’s go and get on with them :).

    “is that your commitment to human rights is inferior to your ideologically-based need to admit Turkey based on long-scale demographic projections”

    Not at all, as a gentleman I hope you will accept my word on this. I just think having them in would be a good idea. I also want to see the negotiations used to advance human rights in Turkey. At the end of the day this is as much about Turkey as it is about the EU. And after Turkey there is Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq etc etc. Not for the EU, but for the human rights chain effect.

    “Letting internally displaced Kurds return to their destroyed villages might be a good first step. Another one might be allowing public education in Kurdish. Another one might be relaxing the extremely strict regulation of non Sunni religions that still exist in Turkey. A real attempt to end police torture is another possible one. Finally, the army could restrain itself from killing Kurdish civilians whenever the conflict with the KADEK heats up.”

    I’ll buy all of these, we shouldn’t let Turkey in till all of these conditions are satisfied. I’ll also add till Cyprus is recognised and there are quite a few more. The reason you may feel I am cavalier on this is that I reckon all these are very doable. I am that convinced that Turkey is – like China – on the ramp. If I’m wrong, I promise, I’ll be prepared to admit it.

    The most difficult will be the education in Kurdish issue, as, and you know this as well as I do, this kind of problem is only resolving itself now in Spain with the arrival of Zapatero and the new ‘plural’ Spanish identity. But surely you don’t doubt my commitment to this?

    I am not interested in any kind of social engineering, I just believe along with Norbert Elias that there is a ‘civilisation process’ at work, and happen to think along with Bo Malmberg that this is age structure related.

    Of course, events in Iraq could tragically cut across all of this. A new Kurdish state – which I am not necessarily against – would mean that all bets are off.

    In a strange way the Pamuk case makes me optimistic. Like the Dreyfus case in France it may have unexpected consequences. I agree with Rehn, it is a kind of provocation, but then those who have done the provoking may have been the real reformers who encouraged the authoritarians to fall into the trap of ‘provoking’. I think they’re on a lose-lose situation here. I sure am glad I read Marcuse, and his ‘negative dialectics’, as a young boy, now I can see just how perverse ‘perverse’ can be.

    And don’t worry Hektor, when I used this kind of argument with Krugman he didn’t understand what I was going on about either :).

    @ Detlef

    “With every enlargement these questions will be more difficult to answer”

    I’m not sure about this detlef, I know this is the received wisdom, but as you must have noticed I normally don’t buy the received wisdom.

    What Hektor is getting at with my demographic reductionism is that I do see appetite for reform as somehow (look at Germany now) related to age. 68 was 68 because here in Europe we had a huge (boom) adolescent generation. Well Turkey could be a bit like this 15 years from now. So Turkey might, contrary to all expectations, be a major force for ‘deepening’, and not at all satisfied with simply a ‘big market’. Incidentally, where the hell did the meme come from that a big market was all that Turkey wanted?

  16. So Turkey might, contrary to all expectations, be a major force for ‘deepening’, and not at all satisfied with simply a ‘big market’. Incidentally, where the hell did the meme come from that a big market was all that Turkey wanted?

    Who thinks so? It seems to me that the idea is rather that the other members would limit the EU’s power to reduce Turkish influence bound to be there due to population.
    Turkey already has a customs union. It would be sensible to wish for increased influence on the rules of the single market. And the right of free residency. That precisely are the problems.

  17. “It seems to me that the idea is rather that the other members would limit the EU’s power to reduce Turkish influence bound to be there due to population.”

    Why? Because they would try and export their lack of respect for human rights, or is there some other reason we haven’t noticed yet?

    What’s wrong with population? As Heinrich von Pierer – Merkel’s economic adviser – was noting with the FT this morning, we are going to be short of it. I would have thought this is one of Turkey’s big assets, human capital. All the better to deepen us with. Or are you suggesting they might *bury* us?

  18. Edward,

    As a gentleman, I accept your assurances. I actually agree with you about Pamuk. This could be very important, depending on how the authorities handle it. Pamuk is probably the only current Turkish novelist most people in the West are aware of, and throwing writers in jail is horribly bad PR. If the case is drawn out and Pamuk starts to call in foreign historians to bolster his statements and also makes impassioned speeches in favor of free expression, it could end up changing Turkish attitudes and damaging the authoritarian cause in Turkey.

    That’s really the problem as I see it. Spaniards and Greeks were exhausted after the bloodletting of the civil wars and the repression of the dictatorships. I don’t get the same feeling from the Turks – it’s more like they believe EU membership is their due. I don’t sense any gratitude, which was definitely a factor in Spain and Greece.

  19. “I accept your assurances.”

    Thank you. Now lets go forward and see what really happens, as I say, I may well be wrong, and I welcome having you around to point this out to me. I am definitely not interested in *fudging* human rights issues, and with 70 odd percent of the German and French population unhappy with Turkey joining I don’t imagine the EU Commission will be able to fudge very far either.

  20. The biggest anti-Croat votes? The Germans, with just 42% in favor and 51% agains. Which is interesting, given German support for Croatia’s independence, back when.
    Why is this interesting ? It seems very consistent to me. Even today they are still favouring Croatia’s indepence!

  21. The whole “just a free-trade area” vs “political union” is a canard from the German debate. “Political union” is held up as the ideal, and usually means “the writer’s/speaker’s preferred vision of the European Union.” Anything else is derided as either “just a free-trade area” or prelude to same. There’s a great deal of hand-waving to disguise the fact that far-reaching European institutions are here to stay and there is no constituency that wants to do away with them. But “free-trade” sounds close enough to the dreaded “neoliberal”–apparently one of the scariest words in German here in the early 21st century, merely getting close to it is sufficient to discredit any idea–so as to render most anything labelled “free-trade” as out of bounds. It’s a curious point of view for a country whose economy is so strongly dependent on exporting.

    As for natural borders, final rosters, and all of that, I’m already on the record with my prediction here. I cheerfully acknowledge knowing very little about the Maghreb, and it is there that I’m most likely wrong in predictions. On the eastern frontier, though, I feel good about them.

  22. Doug,

    “How then is further enlargement possible?”

    How was the previous enlargement possible?

    Uh, by not asking the voters in the then EU member states? :)
    Look, I´m not against enlargement per se.
    But I want to know what the goal/destination is.
    I want to know how the EU institutions are supposed to work in an even larger Union.
    And, last but not least, I´d really like to see the current EU member governments trying to convince their voters of enlargement! Without popular support, the EU will fail.

    “Where are the “natural” borders of the EU?”

    Is this really a meaningful question? I mean, most nations don’t have “natural” boudaries. So why should a collection of 27 nations?

    Note that the EU already includes Ceuta and Melilla in Africa, the Canary Islands, and French Polynesia, but not Switzerland or Norway.

    Is the EU supposed to become a sort of mini UN?
    I´d like to know…
    Note that these outlying posts are tiny. And note too that a huge percentage even in “old” Europe would welcome Switzerland or Norway. For the simple reason that any other candidate states around the EU probably will be poor and needing financial support. While Switzerland and Norway would be net-payers from day 1. :)

    “How to pay for the EU?”

    This is not really a question. Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria are not going to place that big a burden on EU finances.

    If that´s true, then why is there fighting already about the EU budget?
    You might also add them to the other “poor” countries already in the EU.

    http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2005/05/15/germany_5_others_reject_eu_budget_hike/
    “Germany, France, Britain, Austria, the Netherlands and Sweden again jointly rejected efforts by new EU members — and the EU executive Commission — to lift the bloc’s annual outlays to 1.14 percent of GNI in 2007-2013.

    In a paper, the six — who pay more into the EU than they get back in benefits — said their demand to cap annual spending at 1 percent of GNI “is consistent with the principles of … affordability.” ”

    The idea that the EU may degenerate into “a huge free-trade zone” is interesting. Obviously nothing like this is going to happen, but it seems to be a code phrase for “this isn’t the EU we wanted”. Makes me wonder how much of the opposition to EU expansion — and I’m talking the relatively modest expansion under way now, not Turkey — is coming from disappointed “deepeners”.

    Huh?
    You´ve got a “core” of rich countries in Western Europe. Around them in a circle “poorer” countries. Add more poorer countries and of course the richer countries have to pay more under the current rules.
    The EU still has to deal with Spain, Portugal, Greece in the old EU15 plus the 10 new members.

    Not to mention that it´s up to the voters to decide which kind of EU they want, isn´t it?
    If you, better said the governments don´t convince them, don´t blame them if they refuse to follow.
    And it should be obvious that decisions are harder to reach, the more people/states are involved.
    Countries and their governments are looking for the best deal for their country, not necessarily for the common good of the EU. Remember Aznar and his fight to protect the EU funds for Spain during the negotiations about EU funds for the 10 new members states?

  23. Doug,

    The whole “just a free-trade area” vs “political union” is a canard from the German debate. “Political union” is held up as the ideal, and usually means “the writer’s/speaker’s preferred vision of the European Union.” Anything else is derided as either “just a free-trade area” or prelude to same. There’s a great deal of hand-waving to disguise the fact that far-reaching European institutions are here to stay and there is no constituency that wants to do away with them. But “free-trade” sounds close enough to the dreaded “neoliberal”–apparently one of the scariest words in German here in the early 21st century, merely getting close to it is sufficient to discredit any idea–so as to render most anything labelled “free-trade” as out of bounds. It’s a curious point of view for a country whose economy is so strongly dependent on exporting.

    Umm, no!
    Simply put, what would be the disadvantage of a simple European “free-trade” zone to Germany?
    We could still export our goods, but we wouldn´t have to pay for farmers and infrastructure elsewhere. So IMO you´re slightly off the mark.

    The EU was sold to us Germans as an “ever closer Union”. If you want, some kind of political Union.
    Tax money in Germany is spent to ensure the “equality of living conditions in all German states”. Transfering that kind of thought to the EU, it is justified to spend German tax money to help other EU countries.

    If that´s not the goal though, I think it would be justified to tell the German taxpayer that. And tell them what the real goal is. Then let them decide if they support it. And how much money they want to spend on that.

  24. Edward,

    “With every enlargement these questions will be more difficult to answer”

    I’m not sure about this detlef, I know this is the received wisdom, but as you must have noticed I normally don’t buy the received wisdom.

    What Hektor is getting at with my demographic reductionism is that I do see appetite for reform as somehow (look at Germany now) related to age. 68 was 68 because here in Europe we had a huge (boom) adolescent generation. Well Turkey could be a bit like this 15 years from now. So Turkey might, contrary to all expectations, be a major force for ‘deepening’, and not at all satisfied with simply a ‘big market’. Incidentally, where the hell did the meme come from that a big market was all that Turkey wanted?

    That´s a good point! I´ll have to think about it.
    Right now though, I´m sceptical. Sorry! :)

    Look at past EU negotiations.
    With every national government trying to grab the most of everything. Money, political influence…
    I just don´t see right now why those negotiations should become easier with more and more governments involved. :)
    That looks more like an recipe of even more watered down compromises (is that the right word?) on the lowest level.

  25. @ Detlef

    Obviously I think you make some reasonable points, and I am not at all unsympathetic to some of them. What I am trying to argue is that we need to do more thinking out of the box here.

    “With every national government trying to grab the most of everything. Money, political influence…”

    Obviously this is a disagreeable spectacle, but it is the way things are, and I think we need to look a bit beyond this. Maybe part of what I am saying is that it is the part of the iceberg we don’t see which is the important thing.

    “I just don´t see right now why those negotiations should become easier with more and more governments involved. :)”

    No, they won’t get easier, and in the longer run we need some new (constitution like) structure. But the reality is we aren’t going to get it right now, Nice is workable, and we don’t need to draw the conclusion that this means automatic watering down.

    Some of the response to the ‘no’ votes has been relatively positive, see this post and comments thread:

    http://fistfulofeuros.net/archives/001880.php

    And it looks like we will get a debate on the kind of ‘social model’ we want at the October summit:

    http://euobserver.com/9/19869

    The Lisbon agenda is there and it is evolving, so I don’t think everything is as negative as some people sound.

    “That looks more like an recipe of even more watered down compromises (is that the right word?) on the lowest level.”

    This is what people fear, but ‘m not sure it needs to be like that. As I’m suggesting all the controvesy over the Turkish application means the standard in this case may well be fairly high. Certainly higher than it seems to be for Romania.

    “Add more poorer countries and of course the richer countries have to pay more under the current rules. The EU still has to deal with Spain, Portugal, Greece in the old EU15 plus the 10 new members.”

    I think we should see some progress on this issue (especially in the case of Spain which is the big one) at the October summit. Obviously you don’t need to believe that the ‘euro is a unique success story’ (I don’t for a minute) to recognise that countries get richer, and that as new poor members enter, previously poor members should help to pay, just as they previously received.

    IMHO Germany has shouldered a dis-proportionally large share of the cost of building the EU, and now, especially as your economy is feeling its own strains, this problem needs to be addressed.

    “Where are the “natural” borders of the EU?”

    I don’t think there are ‘natural’ borders. The EU is an evolving entity, and our (European) identities are also changing. I think this is a pragmatic issue, and we should be prepared to adapt as we move forward. I think with Turkey possibly entering sometime between 2014 and 2020 and some flexibility in the east we have enough to go on for now (I am optimistic about Turkey, but I am not optimistic about Russia. It’s too soon to say with Ukraine). Beyond this, I think Merkel’s idea of ‘partnerships’ is an admirable one, which we should explore with a great deal of imagination.

  26. Edward,

    I don’t think that there is any segment of the Russian leadership or polity that is interested in actual membership in the EU, so it is a moot point. The EU’s “natural” border is the point at which peoples and leaders say, “No, we’re not really keen on joining.” Russia. Iran. The Central Asian republics. Into the Levant and the Maghreb — ancient Roman provinces all around — I’m on much less solid footing.

    Merkel’s idea of partnerships is admirable, except that it is presented as a unilateral alternative to membership. Countries, particularly Turkey, are being rejected out of hand as full members and being offered something else instead. It’s a substitute for actually dealing with the issues. It also encourages the retrograde elements in the candidate countries.

  27. Doug, just to be clear:

    “except that it is presented as a unilateral alternative to membership”

    Yes, I understand this, and I am explicitly saying that ‘partnership’ gets interesting in the post Turkey phase, not for Turkey. We could let a variety of countries enter the partnership chamber without offering any explicit committment to membership. This would make it easier to draw countries towards the EU, and then we could just see how it goes.

    On Turkey, I’m reminded of the Dylan song: hanging in the balance. Maybe it is the one thing which does depend on Sunday’s vote. If there is a grand coalition I don’t think Germany will be pressing for a ‘partnership’.

  28. “I just believe along with Norbert Elias that there is a ‘civilisation process’ at work, and happen to think along with Bo Malmberg that this is age structure related.”

    Interesting, Edward. Actually, I enjoy your rhetorical blunders more than your flashes of inspiration :-)
    Still, the idea doesn´t work, and the flash is just that: a light in the sky which can´t be looked at twice since it´s just too ephemeral. You´re unsuccessfully trying to put a prestigious horse before your cart here. How about an age-structure-related barbarization process?
    Check:
    1) The youngest societies in the world are home to islamic fundamentalism and export violence to other parts of the globe.
    2) The youngest country among the traditional global powers ignores sustainability issues and elects a leader who is hell-bent on engaging in wrestling matches with countries from category 1)
    3) Look at Africa and try to see whether there is no correlation between the likelihood of civil war, age structure, the incidence of AIDS etc.
    4) Please recognize that Germany and Japan are in (resp. coming out of) an economic depression that is essentially homologous to what they went through in the 30s when they turned to fascism. This time around, they prove to be stable, peaceful, worthy contenders for a seat on the Security Council, most generous donors of international aid during the Asian flood – and they are also pretty much the “oldest” countries in terms of age structure.

    Executive summary: The ageing thesis is the most egregious example in the history of post-Malthusian and post-Marxian economics of what John Kenneth Galbraith has labeled “innocent fraud” (which is the title of Galbraith´s latest book).

  29. Well thanks a lot Joerg, you sure clarified some things for me.

    “The youngest societies in the world are home to islamic fundamentalism and export violence to other parts of the globe.”

    Are you talking about Niger, for example, or Guinea-Bissau with 7.1, or Mali also with 7.1, or or Uganda, no, no, you probably mean Somalia – since the TFR there is 7.0 and there were people from Somalia arrested in connection with the July 21 bombings in London.
    The point is Joerg, if you want to argue against a thesis, you should try to address what the thesis actually says, not put up your own version and knock it down (incidentally, I can’t understand what it is about demographic research which makes people so angry, I mean Iraq I can understand, but the fact that we’re getting older..??). So lets see what Malmberg says:

    Only two groups have a record of no significant decline in mortality. In these groups we find a number of very poor countries many of which have experienced strong social disruption: Afghanistan, Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, and Yemen all belong to the group where the total fertility rate still is close to 7 children per woman. Also for Bhutan, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea , Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Lao People’s
    Democratic Republic, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, and Pakistan there has been very little change in the total fertility rate, almost constant around 6 children per woman.

    Now in this list I recognise three names which have been associated with islamic fundamentalist terrorism – Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia. I hardly think that this bears out your generalistaion. What is clear, as Malmberg says, is that they are all highly unstable.

    Incidentally, I don’t think Malmberg makes any forcasts about the kinds of leader a society may or may not elect. What he talks about are underlying structural questions.

  30. Well, at the risk of abusing Doug’s hospitality, I’m going to post some for the record Malmberg stuff. The point is not that he has this all worked out absolutely right, I think the details of the theory are still being worked out, but it is possible to sketch out some general defining characteristics. So here we go:

    If one were asked to enumerate characteristics common to child abundant countries, such as Sweden in the 19th century, a first observation to be made is that child abundance is closely related to poverty. Another characteristic feature of child abundant economies is the occurrence of child labour, a phenomenon clearly connected to the state of poverty.A third characteristic feature of child abundant countries is a strong dependence on the exploitation of natural resources. Finally, child abundant countries are dependent on foreign capital.

    The young adult period in Sweden is strongly associated with modernisation. This was a time of agricultural transformation, liberalisation, railway building,emigration, urbanisation, industrialisation, popular movements, and, towards the end of the period, rapidly falling birth rates. New industries emerged, international trade developed, and financial markets boomed – and collapsed. Furthermore, the increase in the share of young people coincided with increasing social and political conflict, and, in response to this, democratisation and more extensive state intervention.

    In view of the typical life cycle pattern, it is actually not surprising that observations from the young adult phase show a largely positive macro-economic development, mixed with reports about individual economic hardships and political instability. In contrast to children, young adults can support themselves with their labour. This favours economic development. However, young people are in general less stable than older citizens are: they are more mobile, lack life experience, earn less, and have a limited capacity to generate savings. Furthermore, it is probable that a large increase in the share of young, less experienced labour will push down the relative wages of this age group, while the growing need for investments, not least in housing and infrastructure, will drive up the price of capital. Income inequality and inflationary pressures may follow.

    more stable economic conditions characterise the third phase of the age transition, the phase of population maturity….If we look for common characteristics among countries that have entered the phase of population maturity, the most obvious choice would be
    sustained economic growth. Countries that for a number of decades have benefited from increases in the middle-aged group seem without exception to have entered the club of industrialised countries. An increase in the group of middle-aged people is thus clearly associated with a more developed stage of economic growth, a stage that the economist Walt Rostow once designated ”the drive to maturity”.

    OK this is only an indicative sketch, and obviously I have left out the fourth, ageing, phase, as this is what we are debating day in and day out here. The interesting point is that this demographic transition as he defines it does have an arrow, there is no road back. You can find the full paper here:

    http://www.framtidsstudier.se/aktuellt/2000.6.pdf

  31. “Please recognize that Germany and Japan are in (resp. coming out of) an economic depression”

    Incidentally, just in case this seems like a bit of a private party, Joerg and I have been arguing over this for the last three years. All that time Germany and Japan have been ‘coming out of’ their long recessions, but each time they start to come out they fall back in again. This is what puzzles me. As an empiricist I will have no difficulty at all in recognising I have been wrong should Germany and Japan achieve that *sustained* recovery we have been promised for so long, in the waiting time please forgive me if I hang on to my thesis.

    Incidentally (a second time), three years ago I suggested Italy would be next (they are the next oldest after the other two). And what do you know, here it is in the sick room. If I’m right Finland should be the next man down. All this is testable, and falsifiable.

  32. Edward,

    “be relevant!” (H. P. Grice) – even if you are only responding to a comment from me.
    I was not disputing that African countries are located in Africa. I was not disputing that characterizing a group of countries as being “all … unstable” is a generalization across a group of countries. I was not disputing that Islamic fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism and market fundamentalism are variants of fundamentalism. I was not disputing that fundamentalism is an immature belief system. In fact, these were the very premises of my comment.

    I will confess, though, that I did entertain the notion that “the civilization process” (Elias) “might be a good idea” (Gandhi) – even if that process unexpectedly manifested itself in Germany and Japan instead of being restricted to your list of usual and not-so-usual suspects.

    There is a problem in trying to engage you in an argument about demographics: if presented with questions or counterevidence, you don´t always resist the temptation to ignore the most significant portions of your opponents´ statements or to move on to a different issue or to dilute your position until it becomes unrecognizable – only to return days or weeks later with new posts or comments containing the exact same version of your concept that you had been unwilling to defend earlier on.

    I don´t have much hope for a meaningful discussion without precise definitions of terms. The first relevant term that comes to mind is “fertility”. Is this a strictly biological term? Does it have a social component? What about contraception and abortion?
    To me it seems that the term “fertility” is used in such a way that available information and suggestive data goes unnoticed. Those blanks are then filled in with mystical allusions. There is no field of research where an author could get away with a line like “I fear that a strange attractor will emerge at a TFR level of x”. Such sentiment-driven statements would prevent him or her from getting access to the standard fora of scientific discourse, such as peer-reviewed journals. They only document a nearly limitless capacity to worry about the fate of the human race and a preference for rhetorical devices from the deus-ex-machina category.

    You´d also have to decide whether you consider the concept of “population pressure” to be part of your core thesis. If so, you´d have to provide criteria that define the term so we can see where and when it applies – and to which degree.

    Finally, we´d have to look at the following assumptions you implicitly made in previous posts:
    1) “Productivity” is systematically related to age in such a way that for most economic activities relevant to economies as we will see them emerge in the near future employment of people younger than the average age of the sample is the most successful predictor of above-average productivity data, while employment of people older than the average age of the sample is the most successful predictor of below-average productivity data.
    2) Financial restrictions limit the amount of money that can be dedicated to childcare, support for parents or other related expenditures
    3) Short-term effects may be explained by causes working on long-term time scales, while long-term effects may be explained by causes operating on short-term time scales
    4) Conditions necessary for causing an effect are by definition sufficient to cause the effect in question
    5) Edward Hugh´s value judgment is the final arbiter of all economic discourse on the matter

  33. @ Joerg

    Well thank you for an extensive exposition of your arguments. I think there is only one thing which is clear here: we disagree.

    This I think is our mutual right.

    Just a couple of points:

    “The first relevant term that comes to mind is “fertility”. Is this a strictly biological term?”

    Well funnily enough I did post on this very topic recently here:

    http://bonoboathome.blogspot.com/2005/08/welcome-to-menagerie-ii.html

    “There is no field of research where an author could get away with a line like “I fear that a strange attractor will emerge at a TFR level of x”"

    Well this is Lutz’s hypothesis, and he is a widely published and highly respected demographer: he suggests that there may be a low-fertility trap below 1.5. Counter examples of countries that have escaped the trap and why would be interesting.

    “even if that process unexpectedly manifested itself in Germany and Japan”

    I think noone is disputing that Germany and Japan are modern well-functioning democracies, the issue, I seem to remember was whether Turkey was capable of becoming one. That was how I used the argument.

    The question with Germany and Japan (and now Italy) is whether they can develop self sustaining domestic-demand driven recoveries, and if they can’t, why can’t they? I would say that there is plenty of
    room for testability here.

    “You´d also have to decide whether you consider the concept of “population pressure” to be part of your core thesis”

    I can put your mind at rest here: it isn’t. Have I used the term? It’s possible, but it isn’t the way I think. This, it seems to me, is part of the old, neo-Mathusian paragigm, which puts the emphasis on population quantity.

    I normally talk about age structure, and yes, there is a convenient metric – median age – which is what I normally refer to.

  34. As I said above, it always amazes me how much the temperature seems to rise when you touch on population issues. I am doing a bit of background research on the history of the idea that population *structure* might be important, and I find that the swedish socialist Gunnar Myrdal, writing in the 1930s in fact arrived at a very early version of my demand-deficient hypothesis.

    He also seemed to find that his views really stirred things up (Joerg, there is no direct reference to you intended here):

    DISCUSSIONS of the population problem have always had the capacity to stir up public sentiment much more than most other problems.

    For one thing this problem happens to touch spheres of individual morals which in western civilization have traditionally been the focus of interest for preachers and moralists: the relation between the sexes, mating and marriage, propagation and the family. In our cultural heritage “morals” means specifically and particularly “sexual morals” — and so according not only to Puritan tradition but to Christian tradition broadly. The ordinary citizen in our type of culture is complex-ridden in his sexual life, and this emotional charge is carried over to the scientific discussion of the contiguous social problem, both because the scientist, as a person, is mostly, in this and other respects, quite ordinary himself;

    This comes from the start of a series of lectures entitled:

    POPULATION, A PROBLEM FOR DEMOCRACY

    Again, another interesting detail was that he, like Axekl Börsch Supan today, drew attention to the fact that the US was in the fortunate position of being able to learn from the experiences of others:

    AMERICA has the unique strategic advantage — if it could only be capitalized — that several of its social and political problems are maturing to acuteness a couple of decades later than in some of the older democracies of northern and western Europe, among them my own country, Sweden. Certainly this is true of the problems dealt with in this book. America has still an aggregate fertility which nearly matches its mortality, even when corrected for the factor of age structure -although it is now steadily declining and although during the decline there have developed within the nation reproduction differences between regions, racial groups, and classes of perhaps a still more alarming nature. And in America social policy is only in statu nascendi.

    He even realises that the time scale of the problem may lead some not to consider it worthy of close attention:

    “I am fully aware of the probability that the problems dealt with in this little volume, which comprises in slightly rearranged form the content of these lectures, are not going to be acute in this country in the near future, except in the minds of a very small minority of people with a long-range interest in political questions. I have viewed the problems very much as they have appeared on the Swedish horizon, where for various reasons they have reached an early actuality, but have kept the general perspective of western democratic industrial society in mind.”

  35. The “next man down” will be India (possibly China, too).

    I don´t believe for a split second that once the evidence for this thesis is in (which I am serious about – it´s not a straw man argument I am just making up for the sake of discussion) – you will start to rethink your position. There is “plenty of room for testability” indeed – and you are busily plastering signs all over it that it may not be accessed since testing is not what you have in mind. Or are you seriously suggesting that you would accept an economic recovery in Japan and Germany occurring at the same time as an economic recession in India as counterevidence?

    Your post on Lutz (quantum and tempo effects) doesn´t address the issues I was referring to under the heading of “social components” (abortion/contraception).

    Malmberg/Lutz may be well respected for collecting and presenting demographic data. That respect is not likely to be extended to the habit of using unsubstantiated metaphors. A “trap” is a device that an animal cannot escape from due to genuine physical limitations. The implication of using the metaphor is that previously unknown
    physical limitations will in the future prevent birth rates from rising again.
    We are not just disagreeing about facts. I know that I can shed light on some basic demographic time series by taking recourse to social and economic data, whereas you are disputing that this direction of research can be meaningful at all because you have decided that demographics is the a priori cause of a posteriori economic effects. To buttress that position, you have to filter all evidence to the contrary. This can be done most efficiently if the filter works subconsciously – as is indicated in your case by the fact that you don´t realize that abortion and contraception statistics would document trends and shifts in the expectation patterns governing procreative behaviour.
    (Admittedly, these statistics are hard to obtain. However, there is at least one time series of usable quality. Since it comes from a country that also happens to be a showcase of the demographic thesis – Russia -, it is highly significant indeed. Looked at carefully, this data clearly suggests that there are real-world alternatives to the metaphysical “trap”-metaphor. From a century´s worth of British and American time series, we know that birth rates are following the trends evidenced by broad-based
    indicators of collective perceptions of economic well-being. Such perceptions, then, are a sufficient condition for engaging in the high-risk behaviour of having sex without taking contraceptive measures. They are not a necessary condition, though. What´s indispensable is the autonomous decision of consenting adults in favour of the child. The steady decline in the number of abortions in Russia over several decades shows that Russians are asserting their autonomy in regard to decisions about offspring.
    However, Russians still predominantly prefer to complement one method – abortion – with another one – contraception -, since they do not yet share the optimistic outlook that would allow them to make a different choice more frequently.)

    What we are watching here is a development on the timescale of the Kondratieff cycle. There is, of course, no guarantee that it doesn´t stop at some point in the future. Ultimately, there are no stable paths in human affairs apart from those that we choose to pave. An argument in favour of Russian EU-membership would be just as cogent as the argument in favour of Turkey: the human-rights concerns would be the same. In the case of Turkey, there is a sense of obligation owed to the fact that the Turks have been promised long ago that their application would be considered seriously. In the case of Russia, the obligation would stem from the fact that the Western world chose to push Russia across the brink to bankruptcy based on totally faulty economic reasoning. That act plunged Russia into an economic crisis which precipitated a dramatic fall in life expectancy. While such a catastrophe could not have happened without the collusion of a greedy Russian elite, it also represents a moral responsibility on the part of the Western world. Turkey definitely can´t point to any similar damage inflicted upon it by the West. (Keynes would likely have compared Russia´s position vis-á-vis the West to that of Germany post-WWI. “The Economic Consequences of the Peace” were that Germany´s living standard was cut in half. Germany had its own Khodorkovskij then – an inflation profiteer whose name was Hugo Stinnes. Due to the reluctance of Germany´s elites to learn their lesson, Germany was not prepared to withstand the impact of a
    second economic shock. It´s not clear that Russia is, either. Putin appears to be trying hard, but so far a large part of the Russian population regards him as a “structural reformer” and yearns for a return to the past, no matter how good some of the recent economic data have turned out to be. There will have to be a long sequence of positive data for the situation to turn around, and the EU needs to do everything it can to contribute to such an outcome. If Russia indicates an interest in becoming a member of the
    EU, it ought to be taken just as seriously as Turkey is.

    Back to square one:
    We need to start with the question of motivation. I seem to recollect that you have two kids, so it´s an issue you can also approach introspectively. Do people decide to have
    children in times when they fear that their economic status is going to deteriorate? When they are either afraid of or actually losing their jobs in large numbers? When they
    realize they can´t pay their mortgages? Note that what´s important here isn´t objective well-being only – pessimistic and optimistic delusions are equally relevant. People make up their minds on the basis of their perceived well-being. Even economic and political disasters can be correlated with spikes in the birth rate – as can be inferred from incidents like the power outage in New York and the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938. What counts is the perceived opportunity to divert time away from economically and socially mandated uses to uses individuals decide upon autonomously. (I guess I needn´t explain that the power outage may well have provided actual welfare benefits to those who seized the opportunity to engage in sexual activity, whereas the welfare benefits of begetting lots of little Adolfs and Adolfines would seem to have been somewhat questionable if we are safe in assuming that their parents´ dreams for the kids´ future included a peaceful youth.)
    People get kids when they look confidently forward to tweaking the niche of the economic system that they inhabit in such a way that their time budget will finally allow them to allocate more time to uses of their own choosing without having to face those “hard choices” economists love to impose on others. During long periods of their lives they would not expect to be able to do so – most likely not during spells of unemployment when they may have much time on their hands but no sense of being sovereign in their decisions about their lives: they “should”, after all, be working.

    Note that there is a whole research programme hidden here. Trade-offs between time and money in decision-making processes haven´t been paid much attention to by both Keynesian and other mainstream economists (the only exceptions that come to my mind are Keynes himself – his correspondence with T.S. Eliot, e.g. – and Wassily Leontief). Modern experimental economics offers new methodological toolkits that could shed more light on the issue by complementing the macro-economic perspective with a micro-economic approach.

    I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out how adamant advocacy of fraud – “pensions need to be reduced” – is likely to be self-defeating, no matter how “innocent” – to return to the Galbraithian phrase – it may seem.