Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Baby Shortage

There is an article in Macleans (Canada) about the baby shortage in Canada (and other Western countries). Some highlights:

"...child-rearing is a multi-pronged job which, if done properly, benefits the family, the nation, and everyone in between..."

"'What's interesting about fertility and child-bearing patterns," says Ellwood, "is that high-skill women tend to have babies later and they're usually always married when they have them so there are two adults to support the child. Low-skill women tend to have children very early and they're generally unmarried so they tend to have one adult who doesn't earn very much money to support the child. Neither of these patterns is very good for society.'"

"In Italy, officials are offering a reward of $1,500 for each second child -- and even toying with the possibility of paying women not to go ahead with abortions." (Now there is a new tactic for pro-lifers!)

"Amazingly, the evidence suggests that the most successful policies have one thing in common: they don't try to pay women to procreate. Rather, they facilitate the careers of working mothers. They are premised on the idea that, the more value a society places on women's work inside and outside of the home, the more likely she is to want to contribute meaningfully in both spheres. In other words, take some of the load off of her shoulders and spread it around so that children become everybody's responsibility. Who would have thought that the most economically sound solution to a fertility crisis would be rooted in good old-fashioned feminism?"

(Ummmm... yeah.... DUH!)

"The most promising recent case study is that of France, where the government has successfully sparked a baby boom by implementing a series of extraordinarily generous benefits and incentives for parents. There is a calibrated income-tax rate for families whereby the more children a couple has, the more money they keep in their pockets. The state offers a monthly allowance of roughly $400, which is bumped up when the child reaches the age of 11. Parents are entitled to a tax deduction for in-home child care help (which Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, who stepped down this week, recently announced will be doubled). There is an extensive state-run crèche system, where parents can leave their toddlers at a moment's notice, for free. Families with three or more kids are deemed "famille nombreuses" and are eligible for zero income tax, heavily subsidized rent and transportation, and state-funded parental leaves that can extend for years. They also get free access to many public amenities, and about $325 per year toward extracurricular arts and athletics programs for the kids."

(I am moving to France!!)

"'I think the countries that are doing reasonably well in Europe have an attitude that it takes a community to raise a child," says Duxbury. "The European model is, 'We have to make it possible for those people who can afford to have and raise kids to have them.' Our model in North America is, 'Well, you decided to have a child. That was your personal decision, so don't expect us to help you.' "

The great hypocrisy of this model is that we extol family values and the role of the at-home mom, says Bravo, and yet we make it virtually impossible for women who aren't independently wealthy to stay home. We expect middle- and lower-class women to work and, when it comes to parental responsibilities, we expect them to figure it out on their own dime. Then we label it a choice, so we can say, 'If she had only chosen differently, she'd have more money, and more time with her kids.'"

"Employers always say no one made you have a kid," she says. "They say, 'We've got operational responsibilities. If you can't be here for us, don't expect us to treat you the same. Don't expect to have work-life balance and be promoted and be a star.' Women have taken that to heart and they haven't had kids."

WOW is all I have to say. That is one heck of an article.... And it is right on! We are in a situation of needing more income to live on, but not wanting to put Ella in full-time daycare. If employers would be more flexible, it would be a lot easier on a lot of moms out there!

Thanks, Erin, for posting that article!

0 Thoughts From Others:

Blog Widget by LinkWithin