Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A few Tuesday demographics-related news links

Here's a few links to demographics-related news stories I thought readers might be interested in.
* Eurasianet, via Inter Press Service, features an article describing how many children in Kyrgyzstan have been left effective orphans by the migration of their parents, for work purposes, to Russia and Kazakhstan. I've read of similar phenomena elsewhere in the world, for instance in other post-Soviet republics like Armenia and Moldova.

* The Guardian carried the news that Polish, on account of the past decade of immigration, is the second most common language by number of speakers in England, with the half-million Polish ranking just behind Welsh-speakers in total numbers.

* On a related note, The Telegraph reports that not only have 3.6 million Britons emigrated in the decade 2001-2011, just under two million were people in the 25-44 age group, i.e. not retirees looking for the good life in France or Spain.

* The Washington Post takes note of the fact that in Ireland, the ongoing post-boom recession is made relatively tolerable only by the resumption of large-scale emigration.

* A recent OECD report points out that the German labour market hasn't been taking up large numbers of immigrant recently, tracing the problems to a regulatory system that's seen more as administering a ban on migrant workers with exceptions than one that enables migration, particularly for non-highly skilled workers, as well as the relatively small number of potential migrants fluent in Germany.

* The Vancouver Oberver notes that while Iran has a substantial population of talented computer engineers and software designers, by and large they can only exercise their talents outside of their country.

* The South China Morning Post's Tom Holland writes, from a Hong Kong perspective, about how Singapore's total population and GDP may have surpassed Hong Kong's thanks to the former's liberal immigration policies, but notes that Hong Kong still has an advantage in GDP per capita. A Straits Times article, meanwhile, notes that the Singaporean government hopes to boost TFRs up to the 1.4-1.5 child per woman level, by a quarter.

* The Hankoryeh notes that fertility in South Korea has risen somewhat in recent years, the TFR rising from an all-tie low of 1.08 in 2005 to 1.3 last year.

* The Global Post has a photo essay depicting Chinese workers making their annual migration back to their home communities for the Lunar New Year festival.

* On the subject of islands, growing migration from New Zealand (mainly to Australia, Bermuda (to the United States and Australia) and Puerto Rico (to the United States, increasingly to Florida) has been note in the press.

Al Monitor and Reuters both note the pronatalism of Erdogan in Turkey, who is trying to prevent Turkey's fertility rate from falling below the replacement level through a combination of financial incentives and public lectures.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it's good that Singapore realizes that they need to increase birth rates. It seems like past attempts to increase TFR have met with limited success.

I think that there are 3 main reasons why previous attempts to increase the birthrate have met with limited success.

First the current pro-natal policies that have been tried don’t make any regard to the age of the parents. One study that I read said that many women want to have two or three children. But when they don’t start having kids until they are in their 30’s they simply run out of time and end up with only one child. At least some of the policies should be geared towards getting people to get married and have kids earlier (at least by 27, maybe even younger).

The second is that the policies often don’t start until a couple has had their 3rd kid. Jumping from 0 to 3 kids is a big jump so I think people often disregard those policies because they think it won’t affect them. But if there are incremental policies that keep incentivizing people to have one more kid then it doesn’t seem like a big jump.

The third is that the benefits often take the form of a one time payment, but children are an on going expense for the parents so the incentives need to be on going. They get some money but not enough to pay for daycare, and a bigger place to live on a continuing basis.

I think something like the following would be more effective.

When couples have their 1st kid they should get money that can be used to pay for college, to pay off student loans, or to cover a down payment on a house or condo. The amount of money should be substantial so it is a good incentive, possibly $30,000 per couple or even higher. We should also consider making this age restrictive, maybe to 27 or even younger. This will bring back a sense of urgency to getting people to have kids and bring down the age at which people have their first child.

When a couple has their 2nd child they should be eligible for subsidized child care. This benefit would be available for both of their current children as well as future children they have. Childcare is a big expense and in households that have two working parents it is a big reason that people don’t have kids. For families with a stay at home parent they could receive the money that would have been spent on childcare as a direct payment.

When a couple has their 3rd child they should be able to receive a substantial tax rebate or direct payment, maybe $5,000 per child. This benefit would be available for all 3 of their current children as well as any future children, so as soon as they had their 3rd child they would begin receiving $15,000. Once they had their 4th it would go up to $20,000. They would get it each year until a child turned 21. This would help offset the cost of raising a child. Since it doesn’t start until they have had their third child it will also encourage parents not to wait too long to have their third child.

When a couple has their 4th child they should become eligible for larger subsidized housing. They should be able to rent a 4 bedroom apartment for the price of a 1 bedroom apartment. This benefit would be available each year that they had at least 3 children under 21. As people have become more urbanized the size of their housing and the cost of housing has become one of the limiting factors on family size.

Once a couple has their 5th child they should begin getting an increase in their pension or Social Security of 20% (or possibly more) per child. So after their 5th child they would get a 100% increase (20% for each of the first 5). If they had a 6th they would have another 20% for a total of 120%, etc. One of the main reasons that people used to have a large family was that they were seen as a source or security in old age. This will bring back the connection between a large family and economic security in old age. Other incentives or be added in for 6th, 7th, 8th or higher number of children.