Mischa, Leo and I went out for a walk last night and noticed two things that don't quite fit with the picture you'd get from reading the news.
1) Recession? We sure didn't see it. The French are shopping their brains out. The stores were packed. Huge lines at the toy stores, the clothing stores, the luxury-goods stores--you could barely get the stroller down the escalator. This was a pre-Christmas rush the likes of which I've never seen in Paris. What's up with that?
2) Low birth rates in Europe? Maybe I'm more primed to notice babies and baby paraphernalia because I've got one with me, but I can't ever remember seeing so many babies and kids in Paris, or so many stores selling baby clothes, amusements for kids, merry-go-rounds, puericulture, or pregnant women. And no, these kids definitely aren't all named "Mohammed," so put that idea out of your head; these were little Jean-Claudes and Marie-Frances. If this (fairly ordinary) Parisian neighborhood is anything to go by, the French fertility rate has soared.
I just checked: It's not just anecdotal evidence. The French fertility rate has indeed soared.