Guest Author - Previous BellaOnline Editor
Living in the world’s oldest Democracy affords us some personal liberties that other countries don’t enjoy. But when it comes to the child free community, our government has more in common with places like Kazakstan and Singapore than you might think.
At first, it may seem like these other countries are invading the personal lives of their citizens in a way our country never would. But there are similarities.
They call it “population growth incentives.”
We call it the “Child Tax Credit.”
Read on to discover the ways other countries are exercising their power (or trying to) over the child free...
Last year, the government of Kazakstan announced an incentive to increase their country’s population by levying a tax on couples who don’t have children. [I could not verify whether this policy has been adopted or not]
The last census done in Kazakstan showed a population of 15 million -- 2 million less than it was ten years ago.
According to an article written by Venera Abisheva for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, for over a decade ethnic Russians have left Kazakstan since the fall of the Soviet Union. The birth rate has also decreased in recent years.
The government hopes to bring the population to 20 million by 2015.
President Nursultan Nazarbaev has said, “We must seriously think about making up for what the country has lost through migration. This is a serious problem and the realization of our plans depends on it. If we do not increase the population by 2015, the economic situation may get complicated.”
The Communist regime of the former Soviet Union often used such tactics to interfere in the personal lives of its citizens. Many believe the new tax idea smacks of the totalitarianism they had hoped was a thing of the past.
Some believe essentially forcing people to have children will only breed poverty in a country that needs more resources allocated to social welfare programs for the children who are already struggling.
Complicating the issue, Kazakstan has not established policies that guarantee a woman’s right to keep her job if she gets pregnant. As material wealth increases among the country’s young working population, some couples are unwilling to compromise a successful career in favor of starting a family.
Just last week, Singapore’s new Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced plans to provide financial incentives to families who have children.
According to a story written by Chris Khisa of the BBC, plans are in the works to increase maternity leave from 8 weeks to 12 weeks. “To help encourage bigger families,” writes Khisa, “the government now plans to reimburse companies for the cost of an employee's first four children.”
Like Kazakstan, Singapore’s birth rate is also falling. In the 1960s, the average birth rate was 5.8 babies per woman. Last year the number dropped to just 1.26. Over the last 24 years, the number of childless couples in Singapore has tripled to 6%.
The government of Mongolia has also traditionally promoted population growth. In an article called “End of the Earth,” Anuradha K. Rajivan notes that until recently, people were offered government incentives to reproduce. “A woman with five kids was honoured by the Order of Glorious Motherhood Second Class. If someone did better and had eight children she was bestowed with the Order of Glorious Motherhood First Class. Under communism women with ten children got a salary of a full time factory worker.”
Rajivan goes on to say that today there are no longer taxes for childlessness or incentives for breeding in modern day Mongolia. But while condoms and abortion are increasingly available in the urban centers, contraception is virtually non-existent in rural areas.