Is It Time for America to Incentivize Having More Babies?

incentivize babies
Photo by and ©2006 Dustin M. Ramsey via Wikimedia Commons

The nebulous “they” say that children are a blessing, children are the future, and that there is no greater act of love than to raise a child. As a mother of two little ones, I can tell you that all of these tropes are true, and then some.

In addition to all that lovey-dovey stuff, having children is exhausting, soul-crushingly stressful, and financially challenging, if not impossible, in many situations. With greater opportunities for women in the workplace and a change in value placement on when and how large to have a family, the question of our collective future is possibly teetering on the edge of nonexistence.

That’s right, if we don’t start popping out more babies, the United States could be on the fast track to ruin with a nation predominantly populated by the elderly and, by the looks of it, immigrants. However, one controversial European leader believes he has the answer to the declining population problem facing many Western and First World nations.

Catch that baby fever

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban receives a fair amount of scrutiny for allegedly being too right-wing and too nationalistic. But one can’t deny that Prime Minister Orban is a family man.

Under Mr. Orban’s leadership, Hungary has dedicated close to 5% of its national GDP to boosting Hungary’s birth rate. Instead of instituting government welfare programs that incentivize broken homes, Hungary has implemented a plethora of government programs meant to encourage not just baby-making but marriage.

Women in Hungary with four or more children receive a lifetime tax exemption, and women who become mothers before they turn 30 are exempt from paying personal income tax for life. Hungarian couples receive an upfront $36,000 loan that gets completely written off when they have three children.

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Couples who marry before the bride’s 41st birthday receive a $33,000 loan. That’s some game-changing dollar amounts for any individual, let alone family.

So what has Hungary desperate for its population to increase their reproductive activities?

Global crisis

The world as a whole is reproducing at a slower rate than in previous generations, and many countries are facing possible cultural extinction. In the United States, the birth rate has steadily declined by nearly 23% from 2007 to 2022.

The typical American woman gives birth to 1.6 children, down from the 1950s average of 3 children per typical American woman. Given that the “replacement rate” is 2.1 children per woman, this will spiral into second and third-order effect problems.

The decrease in the birth rate in the United States and all over the world is set to cause significant issues for the aging population. Without a sufficient “replacement” generation to enter the workforce as the older generation retires, a labor shortage is imminent, like what Hungary and many other European nations are facing.

Considering the labor shortage, it’s easy to see the following problem for governments and the elderly generation: fewer workers to pay into government programs aimed at caring for the elderly. What sort of repercussions could this spell for those of us in our middle age?

Perhaps a raising of the retirement age, higher taxes, or certain government programs no longer sustainable at all for when our children are in their twilight years. It’s not just Hungary that is seriously considering incentivizing baby-making.

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France, Italy, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark are all trying similar measures to encourage a more amorous population to sustain their…well…population. Prime Minister Orban warns that what the United States and other Western nations are doing to try to curb labor shortages and decreases in population is the wrong course, stating in 2019:

“For the West, the answer is immigration. For every missing child there should be one coming in and then the numbers will be fine. But we do not need numbers. We need Hungarian children.”

Is it time to seriously consider the declining American birth rate as a real existential crisis? Do we need more American children?

Do it for your country

Prolific procreator Elon Musk has opined on the need for the world to have more babies for years, warning that the plummeting population numbers could be right up there with artificial intelligence when it comes to the end of civilization as we know it.

He once famously claimed:

“A collapsing birth rate is the biggest danger civilization faces by far.”

The electric car maker even went so far as to write:

“Population collapse due to low birth rates is a much bigger risk to civilization than global warming.”

With 11 children, it’s clear Elon is undoubtedly taking this crisis seriously. Perhaps it won’t be his trendy Teslas or his venture into making humanity interplanetary but his push to populate the next generation that will save the planet.

At a recent political event in Rome, Elon Musk said:

“My advice to all government leaders and people is: make sure you have children to create a new generation.”

He went on to state that “demographics are important,” adding that at the current dismal birth rates:

“…the culture of Italy, Japan, and France will disappear.”

Sacre bleu! All joking aside, the idea that the very cultures that have helped shape civilization as we know it might disappear is depressing.

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The question we should be asking ourselves is why, in the United States, the left wing of the political elite wants to discourage mothers from having babies and the nuclear family while encouraging an endless stream of illegal immigrants across the southern border. If I didn’t have to pay taxes for the rest of my life if I had two more kids…I’d think about it.

USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson