Making more babies: a stimulus plan

As birth rates continue to decline, a new Canadian study finds that the primary factor controlling fertility rates is not wealth or income, but a sense of security

Doug Saunders

Aug. 15, 2009

ccording to the Kinsey Report, every average man you know,/ Much prefers his lovey-dovey to court when the temperature is low./ But when the thermometer goes way up, and the weather is sizzling hot,/ Mister Adam, for his madam, is not. Because it's too darn hot.

That was Cole Porter's theory of declining birth rates, as good as anyone's on an August day, especially when we seem to be in the midst of a high-season fertility panic. We don't fully understand why people have babies or not, so why not blame the weather?

The first to panic were the Americans, who have prided themselves on one of the highest reproduction rates in the Western world. But last year, the U.S. birth rate dropped. It was a significant decline – nearly 2 per cent, meaning 68,000 fewer Americans born in 2008 than in 2007.

Early figures for 2009 are indicating an even sharper drop. The big American family, like the big American car, appears to be on the way out.

Meanwhile, a few weeks ago, the European Union's census body, Eurostat, revealed that Germany now has the lowest fertility rate of the 27 EU member nations – only 1.37 children per family and falling fast.

This caused an angry reaction from the German Ministry of Family Affairs, which has been trying to prove that its generous new maternity-leave program, which guarantees 70 per cent of salary for a full year, has been having the desired result. Yet even its figures show that fewer German babies were born in 2008 than in 2007.

Both countries attributed their mini-baby-busts to the recession – which kind of makes sense, but not entirely. In wealthy countries, we have more children when the economy does better. Except when we don't – in fact, Canada has generally been an exception.

But why do we care? After all, we spend a lot of our time complaining about urban sprawl, traffic, crowding and other supposed population woes. Shouldn't a slowdown be desirable?

In the U.S., the concern seems to have something to do with immigration: When fertility rates there go down, the resulting labour shortages tend to be filled with newcomers from the countries to the south. If you've been watching the U.S. news channels, you'll know this is something of a national obsession.

The Germans get closer to the core issue: Their concern is not just with the falling cradle count, but also the rising coffin tally. Their death rate last year went from 10.1 deaths per 1,000 people to 10.3 – the highest in the EU.

Combined with the falling birth rate, this has the noticeable effect of reducing the world's supply of Germans. Last year, Germany's population fell by 168,000 people, despite moderate immigration levels; by 2050 its population may drop from its current 82.1 million to somewhere around 70 million.

Here is where you start to understand the obsession with birth rates: The catastrophic credit-crunch recession is making those rates fall at precisely the moment when the economy badly needs them to rise.

Germany announced this week that economic growth has resumed for the first time in a year. It accomplished this by dumping huge sums of government money into the economy, at great cost: Its government debt is now equivalent to around 70 per cent of its entire economy, and it is about to borrow another 350 billion euros.

Such debt levels are a temporary worry provided that long-term growth returns. Public-debt levels were higher after the Second World War, after all, and spending didn't have to come down: The economy simply outgrew the debt, as did government revenues, until it became negligible.

But that recovery was accompanied by a baby boom, bringing new young taxpayers and revenue-generators into the economy. A declining population, on the other hand, is by definition an aging one, and the pension, health and other public costs of an old population, combined with the lost tax revenue of a big non-working population, are enough to kill the economy.

In essence, the Great Bailout of 2009 was a gamble on future population growth.

That leads to the central question: How do you get people to have more babies?

Immigration doesn't help much. Within a generation or two, immigrants have the same number of children as the native-born population.

A new study by demographers Roderic Beaujot and Juyan Wang of the University of Western Ontario provides some answers. They found Canada an ideal test case, since each province has distinct economic and social policies.

In particular, two provinces, Quebec and Alberta, saw sharp fertility increases in recent years, from 1.45 to 1.65 children per family in Quebec and from 1.64 to 1.82 in Alberta.

That is a bit of a mystery, since otherwise Quebec and Alberta couldn't be more different. Quebec has a lavish social-security system; Alberta a very limited one. Quebec has had fairly high unemployment; Alberta almost none.

By examining surveys, the demographers concluded that the primary factor controlling fertility rates is not wealth or income, but a sense of security: When a couple feels that their circumstances are secure and financial risk is low, they have children.

In the 1950s, the main requirement was a full-time job for the man. By the 1970s, this generally had been expanded to include homeownership as a must-have factor. And in the 1990s, it widened further to include two incomes: Without both prospective parents working, a good 10 to 15 per cent of Canadians were unwilling to have another kid.

They identified two baby-friendly systems. There's the “American” model, in which, thanks to high employment, “even with poor job protection, withdrawals from the labour force were less risky; people could be confident of their employment prospects when they desired to return to the labour market.”

On the other hand, in the “Nordic” model, even with poor employment levels, combining family and work was possible because of strong child-care, family-support and maternity-leave programs. (Canada, like Germany, lacks both high employment and generous child care, so doesn't really fit into either model.)

“In that context,” they conclude, “it is noteworthy that fertility is rising most in Alberta and Quebec, that is in provinces where young families have had the security of either good job opportunities or supportive social policy.”

Job opportunities will be scarce in the coming year, so in many places there is going to have to be another major, expensive bailout program – this one not of banks and corporations but of prospective newborns.

It's a costly investment, but it might be necessary: If governments don't find ways of reducing child-decision risk, the workers of the world will keep it in their pants.





Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre


Politicians of Canada and the Western World are wilfully blind to the incredible looming economic problems due to the declining birth rates.

As the ration of old and young changes, the only solution will be more tax on the those still working to pay for the cost of those who are older.

Canada can lay the blame on its failure to promote marriage between one man and one women which is the only combination that can produce children in families that have a higher probability of another generation of children who will also marry someone of the opposite gender and have children.

Canadian Family Court Judges are almost entirely responsible for creating the most incredible deterrents to lower men's willingness to become fathers.

In Ontario, the underbelly of the Ontario Judiciary simply grant women almost any crazy order they ask for. If a woman does not want a man to see the kids, there are plenty of man hating judges who will engage in the "process of justification" and use the principle that "the end justifies the means".

Frequently that means, men get their "pleadings struck", "declared "Vexatious litigants" and get hit with orders for child support on incomes that never existed and for which no evidence is even provided, judges simply grant any crazy order a vindictive mother asks for.

Many of those mothers decide to live with one or more mothers in the same incredible financial position of having luxury net incomes while the fathers of those children live in poverty, some destitute and who in many cases never see their children again.

It means, the only way those men can survive is to find a woman receiving support and of course they don't any more kids after that.

It's our dead beat family court judges and their willingness to flagrantly abuse their judicial powers and obligations to the best interests of children that create fear in the mind of most men when the suggestion of having children is made.

Check out the research by Peter Roscoe



Quebec unlike Ontario and the rest of Canada, has a real presumption of equal parenting after separation and, factors incomes of both parents in determining support.

In the rest of Canada, family court judges simply give women what ever they ask for.

If a matter goes to court, one or both the parties has a mental health problem and or a personality disorder.

Our Family Courts are willfully bind to those problems.
Its their willingness to give vindictive mothers anything they ask for
that destroys a significant percentage of fathers.

Those destroyed fathers have little intention of remarrying or having more children.

While Canada fails to have equitable child support guidelines and an presumption of equal parenting, our birth rate will continue down a spiral dive into economic collapse.

It could be decades before society and parliament recognize the problem

In the meanwhile, they will choose politically correct solutions that further deter marriages between men and women.


Sorry Syed, Sharia law deprives women of legal rights by applying a perverse and inequitable burden of proof.

That same perverse and inequitable burden of proof is applied in Canada in what is a semi official form of Male Gender Apartheid.

Injustice is injustice, it promotes abuse of absolute power and any gender based inequality / injustice is equally unjust and needs to be removed to promote functional relationships that breed functional children who will also go on to have functional children.

Its the cycle of dysfunction, promoted by the government of Canada that is destroying out society with a negative birth rate.

Ontario / Canada's Male Gender Apartheid is the western counterpart of the Sharia Law that denies the fundamental principles of justice as viewed by an objective impartial person, if there is such a person, you will be hard pressed to find one in the Superior court of Ontario Family Division where the hatred towards men oozes out of the courtroom walls.

Only when society / Parliament deals with the problem of politically appointed judges making feminist politically correct decisions will be see a change in the declining birth rate.

Check out the research by Peter Roscoe, thousands of hours of incredible research into the bias against men. That's another form of terrorism condoned and promoted by the Government of Canada.


Its not just meetings where "the breadth of ignorance at these meetings that is so staggering"

You riddled throughout American Society. Just ask any gas station attendant for directions or a simple question and you discover they just lack any kind of general knowledge or for that matter, generally any information from someone that takes an interest in society, or the nation.

It's a trend thats spreading to Canada, an entire generation of NEET's who don't want to know or care except if it involves them.

While we have the WIFM attitude instead of Kennedy's mantra, society will continue to breed dysfunctional families.

8/15/2009 9:11:34 PM

The NDP, that party famous for its anti father stand have earned the moniker "The No Dads Party".

As Rex points out, the difference between the Liberal and Conservative leaders is hard to see.

What boggles the brain is the NDP now see themselves as "something in between".

When is a political party going to put children first and support a legal presumption for equal parenting?

8/15/2009 9:20:58 PM
All this is wonderful news.

For those Republican posters, of the far right, Canada's withdrawal is not "cutting and running like cowards", its a matter of what the entire population of Canada obvious wants and more to the point, never wanted.

The war against the Taliban is an American war , American's created the problems from funding the Taliban to fight the Russians and after the Russians pullout, American economic interests, especially that the fuel transportation line that the Taliban would not go along with was the primary reason for the invasion.

It's a war solely for US interests and Canada has never had any business in being there in the first place.