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Figures from 2011, recently released by Eurostat, show that spending on education has been on a generally downward path in the EU since 2002. At the onset of the financial crisis this was temporarily reversed as a proportion of the total economy, as GDP rapidly fell. However, after 2009 the decrease resumed and in ten countries, including the U.K., even the absolute level of expenditure went down. Denmark and Cyprus spent the biggest share of their economies (7.8% and 7.2% respectively) while Bulgaria and Slovakia were bottom of the table (3.6% and 4.0%). Poland and Finland led the way in tertiary (university and college) spending on 28% of their total education budget. Much of the funding reduction is accounted for by wage cuts as 55% of all spending is in the category of ‘compensation of employees’.
|Recovery in fertility stopped by economic slump|
An increase in the average number of live births per woman in the southern and eastern EU has been stopped in its tracks by the financial and economic crisis. From a position in 2000 where many eastern countries had a rate of around 1.3, considered by experts to be a ‘lowest-low’, the EU average rose by about 0.15 so that no Member State was at this level by 2009. From this year on, however, Eurostat figures show a geographical divergence between northern and western Europe at around 1.7 and southern countries at about 1.5 with most eastern EU members falling back towards 1.3. It is calculated that, leaving aside migration, a rate of about 2.1 is needed to maintain a steady population level. In general women who have migrated to a foreign country have higher fertiliy than the native-born but they are also more susceptible to economic conditions and their rates have declined faster during the slump.