Gov't to Japanese: Have Babies, We'll Pay You

But cash alone might not be enough to raise birth rate

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 8, 2009 9:46 AM CDT

(Newser) – With Japan’s aging, pension-collecting population eating away at the country's coffers, its leaders have decided they need more kids who can in turn support the elderly—and they’re willing to pay for them. They’re proposing a program that would pay new parents $3,300 a year for every new child until age 15, along with offering less direct incentives, like state-supported daycare and tuition waivers, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The government hopes that investment will repay itself as the new crop of kids begins to support the aged, looking to countries like France, whose relatively hefty family benefit spending helped boost its birth rate rise to 2.02 children per woman; Japan's rate is 1.37. But researchers doubt the gambit will work unless Japanese culture changes in a hurry. Japan’s mothers are still expected to carry the burdens of motherhood, yet corporate cultures make few allowances for working mothers, leaving many women unwilling to have children. “All the money in the world may not make a long-term difference,” says one Oxford demographer.

A Japanese baby sits on a large wooden phallus as part of the annual Utamaro Festival April 3, 2005 in Kawasaki, Japan. During the festival people seek to be blessed with children.   (Getty Images)
Crown Princess Masako and her daughter Princess Aiko arrives at Tokyo station from Nasu Shiobara where they spent their vacation August 18, 2003 in Tokyo, Japan.   (Getty Images)
Children from a nursery school gather at the Port of Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.   (Getty Images)
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