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Should government try to boost fertility?

In his article, “We are not taking Canada’s fertility crisis seriously enough,” economist Tim Sargent highlights that a society with fewer couples and children will have more loneliness and depression, and will struggle to afford pensions and healthcare.

His solution? For governments to create incentives that make it easier to have and care for children. This could include making housing more affordable, offering financial incentives through the tax system, helping with childcare costs and reducing education requirements so young people can enter the workforce earlier.

The trouble is, there’s very little evidence that government incentives can increase the birth rate. According to The Economist, since 2006 South Korea has been spending just over 1% of their GDP a year on incentives such as tax breaks for parents, maternity care and state-sponsored dating. And yet they continue to have the lowest birth rate in the world. Hungary has also put a lot of effort into increasing its birth rate, with some success, but they have not yet succeeded in raising the number of births to a “replacement rate” of 2.1 births per woman. The best a government policy seems to be able to do is to slow down the population decline.

And this makes sense – birth rates tend to be higher not in richer countries with more incentives but in poorer countries with low GDP. Money alone is unlikely to be the solution. While people instinctively feel a lack of money is a major factor, other areas of life (that government has less control over) play a significant role in the low birth rate as well – like the fraying social fabric which puts people at odds with each other, the lack of community support that makes potential parents feel insecure, and the pressure to establish a career before a family. Other challenges include the struggle singles who want children experience in finding a like-minded partner to settle down with, the pervasive cultural messages that raising children is stressful and burdensome, and the looming sense of despair that a large number of young people feel about their future. These are not simple challenges for a government policy to address!

In contrast, the Church may be able to play a more effective role in providing social support, encouragement, and hope in the face of despair to potential young parents.

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RPTV

Canadian women's unfulfilled fertility goals and the country's declining birth rate

TRANSCRIPT Welcome to Reformed Perspective. I'm Alexander Ellison. Today we are diving into a pressing issue – Canada's record low birth rate. Statistics Canada recently confirmed that in 2022 just over 350,000 babies were born, marking the lowest number of live births since 2005. This raises a critical question: what do Canadian women really want when it comes to family size? "So, do you guys have children?" "No, no." "Yes." "Do you have children?" "No." "Uh no." "Do you have children?" "Yes." "Do you plan to have children in the future?" "We don't think so. We actually just talked about it, like two days ago, and I don't know. Everything is just getting so expensive. We rarely know if we will make it, everything's rising up so much." "Honestly, I did think I was going to do it when I was younger, but recently, I've changed my mind, not just because of the whole financial thing, but security, and everything in my country. And then the whole idea of having children is just so big a responsibility. I don't know if I want it or not." "I had three, and that was enough." "I feel like I'd like to build a family of my own. I found that quite a nice future idea, to kind of like raise people like I was raised, hopefully give them a good future." "Yeah, pretty much the same. I just like the idea of family."  "Just having people to support you..." "Yeah, by your side." "It's really important, especially the fact that I don't have siblings, you know. So I want to have children." "Well, we had four children, two girls and two boys, and life was busy, but it was enough. I wouldn't want it to be busier, but I can't imagine my life without them." A Christian think tank, Cardus, took a closer look, through a survey they did, discovering some eye-opening facts. They found that when it comes to family size, there's a significant gap between what Canadian women desire and what they actually have. Andrea Mrozek: "So we found that almost half of Canadian women wish they'd have more children than they do have at the end of their reproductive lives. So we asked a range of women, up to the age of 44. And that's the key takeaway: that women would like to have more kids than they have. Fertility ideals are much higher than intentions. What that means is that the future people have for their family is not typically fulfilled. "My thought for changing the culture is around recognizing that you can be fulfilled over the life course in every way – that the career is something you can have the entire life course to work on – but having children is something you only have a more limited amount of time to work. I think we're really fortunate to live in a world where we have a lot of options and possibilities as women today. I think now is the time to speak more strongly to the joys of a family life. At one point in time you needed to speak more strongly to the desires of doing waged work and getting out into the world and having a career, but those things are completely accessible, they're accessible over the life course, but having a family is something that is deeply fulfilling and can only be done in a certain time frame. We kind of lost the plot on why that matters, how it feels to not achieve that. I really am hoping young men and young women can live in freedom and trust God with their lives. That means trusting him with every aspect of our lives including our family and our fertility. In a secular worldview, it's quite constrained – you have to do things in a particular way, in a particular order, and definitely take the birth control pill till you're good and ready, and really constrain, actually, how you live your life. I think you could view a secular worldview as being quite constrained. Then the joy of being Christian, and the beauty of being Christian is living in the freedom of God's plan for us, and being open to all aspects of that, at whatever time in life that they do come. I think we as Christians have more capacity to live imaginative lives, and that includes our family lives." As we conclude our discussion on women's fertility goals, let us remember that children are a blessing and an integral part of God's plan for families. In a world where fertility rates are declining, it is crucial to support and understand the desires of women when it comes to building their families. We hope this video has shed light on the importance of considering women's wishes in family planning and how societal challenges can impact their fertility choices. Remember in all our pursuits let us honor the call to "be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1:28), trusting in God's divine wisdom. Thank you for watching this video. Please like this video and subscribe to this channel, and feel free to share with friends and family. For Reformed Perspective, I'm Alexandra Ellison....