This week, Prince Harry announced to the world that he and his wife, Meghan Markle, agreed to have a “maximum” of two children. Part of the reasoning is their concern that having more children would increase their carbon footprint and have a negative impact on the environment. It is a rather trendy notion and actually flies in the face of policies that some countries are adopting.
In July, Hungary announced a new program, in addition to other pro-family policies, that would give couples a loan of about $30,000, which they could keep, if they have at least three children. To initially qualify for the loan the couple must be married, the wife must be between the ages of 18-40, it must be the first marriage for one, and at least one must have made social contributions for at least 180 days in the country. The implementation of this program was motivated by Hungary’s labor shortages and a desire to avoid relying on immigration to fill the void.
Hungary is not the only country doing this. According to Thought.co, Russia’s population has been decreasing by 700,000 to 800,000 citizens every year due to a high death rate, low birth rate, high rate of abortions and a low level of immigration. The country has been trying to tackle its population problem by encouraging families to have more children by offering those who qualify cash rewards and mortgage subsidies.
It’s still unclear if these types of policies will work. For example, Germany offers up to $35,000 for paid child leave care. So far, it has not resulted in the baby boom that the German government was hoping for, but Hungary’s plan is more ambitious than most. In fact, it’s already showing some results with the total fertility rate increasing.
There are some in Congress on both sides of the aisle who have expressed interest in supporting families with children. Whether it’s through the recent doubling of the standard tax deduction or by creating a new family leave policy through social security or another avenue, U.S. politicians are also focused on doing what they can to encourage families to grow. Currently, the U.S. fertility rate sits at a 32-year low of 1.7, which is below the number needed to replace the current population, which is 2.1, and helps keep the country prosperous.
According to the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Gun, Germs and Steel, Jim Diamond, “All great civilizations have some things in common – advanced technology, large populations, and well-organized workforce.” That was true for ancient civilizations and remains true today. A well-functioning economy can encourage families to have children. This happened in the United States during the post-war baby boom years when the Americans started engaging with the consumer economy, which helped turn the United States into the economic powerhouse that it is today.
Children are important. Not only for the future, but for the sustainability of the country and for economic prosperity. To argue that the dangers of “climate change” should result in couples having only two children or none at all isn’t the answer. For those interested in helping to protect the planet, the greatest resource available is our children. Young minds with hopes and dreams that can come up with new innovative ideas that can change the world or perhaps even save it.
Read more on: How Fertility Drives the Health of Nations