Re: Why paying women to have more babies won’t work

Written by Olivia Nater | Published: May 23, 2024

The Economist recently ran a very refreshing cover story pushing back against “baby bust” panic. We responded with a letter to the editor which we are featuring here as it was not published.

We encourage all our members and supporters to make their voices heard! See our media guide for advice on how to do that.

Dear Editor,

Great to see your cover story (“Why paying women to have more babies won’t work,” May 23, 2024) argue that low fertility rates are here to stay and that instead of pushing women to have more babies, policymakers should focus on preparing for population aging and shrinking. It presents a much needed antidote to widespread “baby bust” fearmongering. As your article lays out, women achieving higher levels of education and more career opportunities, as well as fewer teenagers falling pregnant, are huge achievements, not something to bemoan.

Policies that help improve parents’ and children’s lives, such as subsidized daycare and education, are absolutely worthwhile, but their primary aim should be exactly that, and not to boost birth rates. We can increase the number of productive members of society by investing in child welfare, and by keeping older people fit and healthy for as long as possible.

The article also should have mentioned that ending population growth is a requirement for a livable future on this planet. Our population of 8 billion and counting has already breached six of nine critical planetary boundaries. To have a chance of limiting climate change, ending biodiversity loss, and preventing resource depletion, among other things, we must embrace small family sizes as the new norm.


Olivia Nater
Communications Manager
Population Connection