Culture

Governments' Desperate Efforts to Encourage Childbirth

Countries in a demographic crash are getting into the babymaking business, often with rather hilarious results. In Denmark, a racy new ad campaign offers an incentive for couples to get pregnant. The Danish birthrate is about 10 per 1,000 residents in 2013, which is not so much a lack of babies as a demographic plane crash. This mildly racy Danish ad offers an incentive of three years of free diapers to couples who get pregnant while on vacation.

In Russia where the birthrate is a terribly low 1.61, Valdimir Putin established cash payments for mothers who have three or more children, assuring them of daycare for their tots so they can “continue in their professional life.”

Japan’s abysmal birth rate has led to only 17 million children in a country of 126 million. The Japanese government is trying a rather pathetic campaign that insists that “It’s fun to have babies!” For Japan, it may be too late to come back from self-extinction.

Germany, Italy, Singapore, and over a hundred other countries all face a birth rate so low that they, too, will cease to exist if their populations don’t start reproducing. Twenty-two Muslim countries and territories have declines in fertility of 50% or more, so the declining birthrate is not entirely a Western problem. China famously instituted a one-child program in 1979 and their fertility rate is now 1.55, well below replacement rate.shutterstock_180733787

The United States is at a near-replacement rate of 2.06, but we too face an aging population. We need a program to encourage childbirth here before we too fall off the demographic cliff.

Reihan Salam of Slate has a solution: Tax the childless. Let’s “slash taxes on parents by jacking them up for nonparents,” he argues. I disagree. Adding to the coffers of the federal government via increased tax rates doesn’t encourage parents to have more children. What does make sense is Senator Mike Lee’s proposal, to reform the tax code so parents aren’t contributing twice to senior entitlement programs. We should also increase the child deduction credit far beyond the current paltry $1,000 per child.

If Denmark can hand out free diapers, and Russia can give cash payments for children, why not allow American parents to keep more of their hard-earned money so they can have that third or fourth child? Give parents the economic freedom to have the large families we need for our nation to thrive, and we’ll avoid following other countries into self-extinction.

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock: Dasha Petrenko