March 2024

Low fertility has prompted some governments in East Asia and Europe to implement pronatalist policies to encourage citizens to have more children. These schemes have minimal effect on fertility rates and can be offensive to women by treating them as little more than creators of future taxpayers, consumers, soldiers, and caregivers.

Cover image: A mother and her baby in Romania’s second largest city, Cluj-Napoca. Romania’s population peaked in 1991 at nearly 23 million and has been declining since. Its population in 2024 (according to UN projections made in 2022) is 19.6 million, and its fertility rate is 1.7 births per woman. (Photo by Eren Bozkurt/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

"The failure of dozens of often very expensive pronatalist policies to produce much of a return has policymakers and observers alike wondering whether there’s any way for governments to convince their citizens to have more babies. If not, what should lawmakers be doing instead to help societies adapt to a demographically changing world?" Anna North
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“Fewer people on the planet, of course, may reduce humanity’s ecological footprint and competition for finite resources. There could even be greater peace as governments are forced to choose between spending on military equipment or on pensions. And as rich nations come to rely more on immigrants from poorer countries, those migrants gain greater access to the global prosperity currently concentrated in the developed world.”

–Wang Feng, The New York Times, January 30, 2023

Photo: A child holds a globe balloon during a demonstration as part of the Fridays for Future movement for climate change in Turin, Italy. (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)