Birth rates are dropping everywhere, even the poorest countries (though they continue to be safely above replacement levels).
What would make me want more children? If I didn't want to raise them to take part in a high-tech, specialized, knowledge-driven, globalized world. If I didn't care about spending a great deal of money and other resources on equipping them for adulthood-- a dramatically different prospect than it was even 30 years ago, where one could make a reasonable, secure living using his hands alone. If I didn't feel the need to ensure they can keep up with the lightening-fast changing pace of technology, so as not to become redundant or obsolete. If I didn't care about the dramatically disproportionate impact my urban American children will have in terms of consuming far more than their equitable share of resources, energy and goods.
If I wanted to raise a passel of homesteaders "off the grid," then maybe. But I definitely don't, won't and can't.
In the U.K. you get 52 weeks of maternity leave if you want to. However, you only get paid for 39 weeks (6 weeks is 90% of normal pay, and the next 31 is a little less for most). Paternity leave is 2 weeks with 90% pay as well.
I think education is a big thing in a lot of countries. Sending your children to good schools is expensive. Sometimes when I think of how much we'll spend on schools if we have five children, it makes me want to send them to a state school instead. Better maternity leave as well (better pay here, and apparently many many many more weeks with better pay over the pond!). Tummy tucks and boob-lifts would not make me have more children ;) Of course, it would be nice to have a guarantee that your body would like perfect after giving birth to five kids... but that's life! I want a whole little bunch of children, and unless we go broke I can't imagine anything but my body stopping me. Overall, I think it's fine here in England. But when I talk to my sister and my friend with children in Norway and Sweden, I do get jealous. Free education (apart from nursery) and the maternity leave is quite excellent: In Norway you get 57 weeks with 80% pay, or 47 weeks with 100% pay. 12 of these weeks belong to the father (if he doesn't take them, they lose those 12 weeks). I think it's quite similar in Sweden, but I'm not sure the father is required to take an amount of it (I believe they get somewhere around 420 days maternity leave).
We have one small son, and will probably stop at two. But all of our children are coming through adoption, so we are not helping out w. that replacement rate business. I would happily adopt more than two. But it's such an arduous process that even thinking about starting it again makes me tired. I have never been pregnant, so maybe if I had been I would think of that as similarly exhausting. I don't know. I do know that I love babies and kids and I'd be happy for a new baby to just show up every couple of years.
I did put my career on hold to stay home w. our baby. There were lots of reasons for this, but mostly it came down to my husband and I both really wanting for me to stay home. I do wish that we had a more sensible maternity leave and daycare situation in this country, b.c honestly, six weeks is not enough for most new moms and daycare would have taken most of my paycheck. But that's not why I made this decision. Though those realities have helped me justify my decision to people who are concerned about how I am betraying feminism or something.
Honestly, people are not very rational decision makers, especially when it comes to having/not having children.
For us, it has more to do with our personalities than anything else. Together (and individually), we are more than capable of raising the two children we have now. My husband hasn't decided whether or not he has the patience for three (or more). If he ultimately decides he cannot handle three, we will stop at the two we have now.
If we decide to have more, I will become a SAHM because we won't be able to afford daycare for three children. So, I think financial support and/or more affordable childcare would be beneficial to us, but I'm not keen on the government paying people to have babies.
Longer maternity leaves in the US would be beneficial to society as a whole.
Interesting. How does the government communicate the 'one for mum, one for dad, one for Australia' campaign? TV ads? School campaigns?
Originally Posted by sarahmezz
Also I read Australia started offering baby bonuses and was somewhat successful in raising their birthrate, have you noticed this?
Australia has no baby bonus now after march so I wonder if births will drop? My S+E teacher (whos a politic freak) says that many young kids have a baby for the money and then blow it so its good but I'm not sure.
I live in Sweden, but am planning to return to the US in the next 5 years or so. The following reasons are holding us back from having more children:
- terrible paid maternity leave in the US
- the cost of higher education in the US (if you want to be scared out of having more kids, do the math on how much you have to save each month per kid to cover the estimated annual cost of college/ university)
- the cultural pressure to put in more hours at work. (I heard an interview with Michael Pollen- yes he talks mostly about food, but this figure was given in relation to the amount of time available to spend in the kitchen preparing meals- where he said that since the 1970's (I think) the average American family has added an entire month of work to the combined schedule of the parents.)
- availability of early childhood public education
I think if the cost of education weren't so high in the US I might be able to to convince my husband to try for one more, but we would probably stay in Sweden until the youngest had finished preschool for the maternity leave and the excellent preschools.
I agree with what emmabobemma had to say.
Personally, I want to have a lot of kids whether or not the governement bribed me too. I might be a little suspecious if the government tried to bribe me to have lots of kids. I'd think like USSR that encouraged it's citizens to have more kids than they could afford. Many children who had both parets (and multiple siblings) living were given up to orphanages/ up for adoption because their parents can only feed/clothe/house so many kids.
I think relying on immigration (and encouraging it instead of discouraging it) is the way to go.
Not to be nitpicky, but it was actually Romania that encouraged its citizens to have more children than they could afford, through banning abortion and any kind of birth control and even forcing factory workers into mandatory health exams to determine if they were pregnant. This led to the orphan crisis of the 1980s. In the USSR, though contraception was difficult to come by, abortion was widespread, and birth rates were fairly low in the 1970s and 1980s; in fact, the USSR was the first country to legalize abortion.
Originally Posted by allythys
It's difficult to draw the line between what is bribing people to have children, and what is encouraging them to meet their economic potential. In my opinion, paid maternity leave and adequate subsidized childcare programs can benefit a country's economy by encouraging women (and men) with children to continue to work if they choose to.
Only pregnant with #1 now, but a few things...
--Cost is obviously a big factor, we live in an area where the cost of living is high. Considering things like education, general living expense, and buying a larger home down the road all have to factor in.
--Different work circumstances--as I'm self-employed, my maternity leave consists of hoping my clients want to keep working with my schedule and building a work schedule around baby...DH gets one week.
--If we lived in a different place and time and needed those extra hands to work the farm (we razz my FIL all the time because he did grow up in this circumstance, when we found out we were having a girl, I think it took him a little while to stop worrying about who would work the fields we don't have)
--If I could magically have the gestation period of a chipmunk