Following on from the dossier in this issue evaluating what has been achieved under the Lisbon agenda, Michel Godet and Évelyne Sullerot, who have a written a forthcoming report on the family, stress the urgent need that exists in Europe to invest in its human capital. They point out that Europe is at last realizing that its population is ageing, especially compared with the United States, and that this has consequences in the medium and long term for its economic growth (the economically active population of the 25 member states of the EU might decline by more than 20 million between 2010 and 2030). Unless the birthrate shoots up and immigration rises substantially, there is no way out.
Yet many surveys show that the fall in fertility rates in Europe is not inevitable - women still want to have children - but it is the result of public policies that do too little to help matters. France is admittedly an exception as regards fertility rates, but this does not mean that the country is unaffected by these problems. It is against this background that the French prime minister asked the Conseil d'Analyses Économiques to examine the economic issues arising from the policy on families and its relationship with other social policies.
A working group was set up officially on 1 July 2004 by Christian de Boissieu, the head of the CAE, with Évelyne Sullerot and Michel Godet as co-ordinators. This article provides some extracts from the report, which encourages the public authorities to help combat poverty in families with children and achieve a better balance between the demands of work and family.