Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Birth Rates Rising Again in Australia

The Federal Government's $3000 baby bonus has helped to reverse the nation's declining birth rate, with new statistics revealing an increase for the first time in a decade. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show the number of babies per woman rose to 1.77 last year, breaking a forty year decline, it was reported. The birth rate is the highest it has reached in seven years and is the first time it has increased significantly since 1961 when it peaked at 3.55. The Howard Government's $3000 baby bonus for every baby born in 2004 played a significant role in halting the nation's declining fertility rate, the Australian National University's head of demography, professor Peter McDonald said. Prof McDonald predicted the fertility rate would rise to 1.8 in 2005 as the baby bonus starts having an effect. The bonus will increase to $4000 from July 1 this year.


At June 14, 2005 6:54 AM, Blogger Nikephoros_Phokas said...

Reading "The Heart Grown Bitter: A Chronicle of Cypriot War Refugees" by Peter Loizos(you can probably find other social anthropologists' works that investigate pre-capitalist traditionas) will give an insight into Greek traditions before Cyprus's economic modernization, when the birthrate was actually sustainable. There was no such thing as love or choice in finding a spouse, you married who your family chose based on the economic standing of the spouse's family. You did not date or even socialize with the opposite sex if they were not related to you. You did not divorce, it would shame your whole family and their honor, and it would make you a pariah in the village if you did. Life was hard, if you ate bread you probably threshed your own wheat and milled it yourself, so marriage was not for some notion of love or finding a perfect match, marriage was to try to improve your economic standing so you could survive better, because life was hard back then. Eating was not as easy as opening up a can of whatever that you bought at a supermarket, turning on a button to heat it.

The reason why people divorce so much in a country like Australia is because of increased freedom(from social stigma which used to be debilitating for divorce). In pre-capitalist agrarian societies kids are an asset in doing farm work as they grow up enough(they can easily herd goats at age eight), also having lots of children used to insure the parents would be taken care of in old age by their progeny. Now kids are burden for a long time and with modern banking you can save for your own retirement. It is more effective for some to invest in their retirement instead of spending money to raise kids, that is, if your only concern is to insure you are taken care of in old age.

It is not just a problem of money, social norms and traiditons have changed. Granting money as an incentive to have children will not deal with the problem that advanced capitalist countries all have below replacement level birth rates. People are having less children because they have the freedom not to have children and survive. It is kind of like the Metallica lyric: "life is for my own to live my own way". If you have no kids you can actually go out see a movie without scheduling for a babysitter(costly), life becomes for your kid for those that procreate. Having kids reduces your freedom, it is a huge commitment, that is why people are having kids later in life than decades ago, and having less of them.

At June 14, 2005 8:50 AM, Blogger Rune said...

Here's the story without registration

Btw. It’s this girl who done it. She single-handedly raised the Australian birth rate. Double quads:

By December Mrs Chalk will have increased the continent’s population by nine in a little over two years. Having given birth to quadruplets in August, the 26-year-old Queensland mother is now pregnant with another four, due in December. As if that were not enough, she and her husband Darren, 34, a security guard, are also proud parents of a two-year-old daughter, Shelby.

Yes, it is a big problem that all financial reasons for children are gone – or rather they’re still very much there for the whole society which will soon be all but screaming for children, but all the financial burdens have been moved to the parents while the state reaps all the benefits, in form of future workforce, tax payments, etc. Recently a newspaper calculated that each Danish child cost the parents around US$350,000 from birth to the 18’th year.

Tax rebates and cash sums, like the Australian Baby Bonus, are very good methods to move some of the financial gain back to the parents. Though I personally favour tax rebates. Also it may be fairly expensive to raise the birth-rate substantially. Here’s a Canadian (Quebec) analyses of their Baby Bonus program (PDF), which concludes that it worked, but each additional child cost CAD$15.000 (US$12,000). AUS$4,000 is about US$ 3,000.

At June 14, 2005 8:50 AM, Blogger ik said...

fjordman - sorry about this ot comment -delete it if you want - I read this somewhere in some Indian newspaper - are you aware of it.

In Human Visas, a new book that probably points in the direction Europe is going, Norwegian journalist and human rights activist Hege Storhaug argues that strict controls on immigration are the best way to protect European values and Muslim women's rights. Storhaug, the information director of Human Rights Service, says that Europe's concept of Muslim integration used to amount to "Get the father a job and integration will follow." The new motto, she says, should be "Integrate the mother and two-thirds of the job is done, because the mother will integrate the children."

Storhaug says that to dry up radical Islam, European governments need to break up the "parallel societies" Muslims have established in cities across the continent. Older men in these communities prevent integration by controlling marriages. "The families are under tremendous pressure to bring relatives from the home country to Europe," she said. "Relatives are willing to pay a lot for those residency visas. Especially with young immigrant brides, they become completely dependent on their husbands and in-laws. Young women who are born in Norway are forced to marry cousins who can then come to this country." She says that in the ninety such forced marriages her group studied, all but three of the brides said they had been raped.


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