Will Pay Cash For Babies: How Industrialized Nations Hope To Boost Birth Rates

Hoping to guard against future labor shortages and protect their national identity, many countries with low birth rates are trying to entice couples into having more children with a variety of financial incentives -- including cash payments.
August 22, 2006, 9am PDT | Matt Baumann
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Within the past year, many industrialized nations such as Germany and Taiwan, have either relaxed their immigration policies, or offered cash incentives to entice people to have more children. Why? Demographers are predicting worker shortages just as demand is increasing for many countries to increase their output. Another concern, and perhaps more important, is keeping their nations' identity alive.

Just what is the "optimal birth rate?" According to demographers, a birthrate of 2.1 per female is considered essential to replace an aging workforce. The United States is right around this number as compared to Japan, which is at a post-World War II low of 1.3 births per female. Besides increasing the birth rates, many countries are relaxing their immigration standards, which is a quicker fix to a labor shortage problem.

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Published on Wednesday, August 16, 2006 in Wall Street Journal via The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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