Across Europe, birth rates are falling. To counter this, the French have instituted incredible incentives such as 3-year paid parental leave with guaranteed job protection, full-time preschool for all starting at age 3, stipends for nannies, monthly child-care stipends that are graduated to ensure only a certain percentage of a working mother’s wages go to child-care and increase with the number of children in a family. All of this has resulted in France now having a birth rate of 1.8, the second highest in Europe.
Most of these policies sound like good ideas but it’s the motivation behind them that gives me a touch of the willies. Ensuring that mothers can work and sustain a good quality of life is a great thing, but doing all of this for the sake of birthing more French babies smacks of eugenics and short-sightedness. The world population has now topped 6.7 billion, and just this week the U.S. population hit 300 million. Does the world really need more European babies? We have enough children being born places like Malawi, where women pop out an average of 6.1 children over their (short) lifespan and at least 1 million AIDS orphans need a home.