While I understand the concerns involved with a low birthrate as detailed in “Babies with benefits,” (Family, Sunday), I found the comment by Mark Pierson, the head of the social policy division at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, ironic.
Namely: “It’s not a very effective way of encouraging fertility. The way you encourage women to have more children is to help them work more.”
Anyone who has raised young children full time can attest to the fact that it is, indeed, hard work. To suggest that full-time parents would be working more if they took a job outside the home ridiculous. Perhaps Mr. Pierson needs to shadow a full-time mom or dad of an infant or young children for a day to gain some perspective on this issue. The third time in 15 minutes he had to get up to help separate two bickering toddlers would be the last time he implied that full-time mothers or fathers don’t already work.
In addition, I take issue with the implication of Elizabeth Bryant’s article and other recent articles not exclusively from this paper on this subject. Whether or not the French incentives are responsible for the higher fertility rate in France compared to other European countries is debatable, especially in light of the fact that our birth rate is higher, but what first needs to be decided is whether taxpayer funds should go to pay for what is inherently not in the best interest of children, namely the federal subsidization of day care.
In the vast majority of cases, children are better off being raised full time by a parent than by some form of paid help. Some of the other benefits instituted in France and Europe make more sense, namely lower fees on public transportation, subsidized health care and so-called baby bonuses.