November 10, 2009
Bundles of Joy and, Now, Bounty
Earlier, we noted here the financial incentives given to teenagers in North Carolina not to procreate. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Japanese government is incentivizing women to get pregnant as the country continues experiencing low birth rates. From the Wall Street Journal:
Japan's new leaders propose offering new parents monthly payments totaling about $3,300 a year for every new child until the age of 15. Other initiatives include more state-supported day care, tuition waivers and other efforts designed to make parenthood more appealing.
Of course, as the article points out:
But experts warn money alone does not a baby make. Governments have a mixed record in pushing up birth rates, as economic inducements sometimes fail to overcome other complex societal forces that affect baby-making decisions.
In Japan, they include the traditional reliance on mothers to perform the bulk of duties in the home, including child-rearing. Demographers say Japan might have more success if they also encourage more Japanese men to come home and do the dishes.
Finally, as I argued in one of my own articles, tax laws indeed have influence on family-planning:
On the policy front, Japanese tax laws encourage single-income families with a tax deduction that keeps many mothers at home. That slows the development of family-friendly corporate policies and social acceptance of working mothers.
Bottom-line: there are many modern influences making it difficult for young people to begin families, and overcoming them requires a multi-faceted approach. It will be interesting to see which Japanese initiatives will most ease the burdens of parenthood to make it more attractive.
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