Low Fertility: Will Governments Make a Difference?
Joseph Chamie, United Nations
Many Governments in low fertility countries are increasingly alarmed about the economic, social, cultural, as well as geo-political consequences of a shrinking and ageing population. Some countries consider the low birth rates with the resulting population decline and ageing to be a serious crisis, jeopardizing the basic foundations of the nation and threatening its survival. Economic growth, defence, and pensions and health care for the elderly are all areas of major concern. In attempting to raise birth rates, Governments are seeking to address the underlying causes of low fertility and adopting polices, programmes and incentives to encourage couples to have more babies. Job security, maternity and paternity leave, childcare, after school programs, cash allowances and other financial incentives are among the issues being carefully reviewed by Governments. "Will such Government efforts make a difference?" is the central focus of this paper.