Why do some nations’ birthrates fall? And can Big Government boost them?
[Germany] spends some €200 billion ($270 billion) on promoting children and families per year…But its birth rate, at 1.39 births per woman aged 15 to 49, remains among the lowest in Europe…
…The web of benefits is so complex that even experts don’t fully grasp it: There’s a “child supplement,” “parental benefit,” an “allowance for single parents,” a “married person’s supplement,” a “sibling bonus,” “orphan money” and “child education supplement,” not to forget the “child education supplementary supplement.”
The article suggests that the reason that German women don’t have kids is because the government isn’t funding enough daycare and preschools to make it easy for them.
I have a different theory. My guess is that birthrates fall:
- because living standards rise. (Kids stop being a help on the farm; start being expensive.)
- and because the Welfare State gives people the illusion that government will take care of them in old age.
My second point would mean that Big Government measures won’t, over time and on average, raise a nation’s birthrates. The more the State does – the more it hands out benefits and asserts its dominance in citizens’ lives – the less urgent its citizens will feel about procreating. Agree/disagree?