Enlarging the family
By Carolyn Moynihan Thursday, 29 September 2005
Moves in France and elsewhere to stave off population decline are drawing attention to the importance of bigger families.

This month France announced an incentive for larger families. Starting next July, parents who take one year's unpaid leave from work after the birth of a third child will qualify for a grant of up to ?1000 a month. "We must do more to allow French families to have as many children as they want," said Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

The new grant is double the existing maximum entitlement for families with young children and comes on top of other social support geared to larger families. This includes maternity leave, on near full pay, that ranges from 20 weeks for the first child to 40 or more for a third, and an extensive network of affordable childcare. As well, there is near-free public transport and ?300 a month in allowances.

After decades of propaganda in favour of the two-child family, it has suddenly become polite to speak of three-not only in Europe, where the average birthrate is 1.4 children per woman, but also in east Asia where it is down to 1.2 in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. As recently as the 1980s South Koreans were told, "even two are a lot", and they could get themselves sterilised at public expense until last year. Now they can have free reversals and free birth care for their third or fourth child.

Compared with these low-fertility countries, France looks very well-off with a buoyant birthrate of 1.9-the highest in the European Union except for Ireland, on 2.0. According to experts, that is precisely because of family-friendly policies which make it easy for working women in France to have children-81 per cent of women between 25 and 49 are in work. The effect of a large immigrant population with higher birthrates is generally not mentioned.

Yet even in France, and in the Scandinavian countries with similarly generous maternity leave, family benefits and subsidised childcare, fertility is still below replacement, meaning that their populations will age and ultimately shrink without levels of immigration that would be unpopular, even if they were possible.

The power of three
Two children, after all, is not a rational goal. Some people are going to wait too long to begin a family, or between children, and have to settle for one child or none, so that even replacement fertility depends on a proportion of couples having larger families. Yet this is precisely where recent policies have done most damage, drastically reducing the proportion of couples who have three or more children.

Surprisingly, however, a recent national survey of Australians in their 20s and 30s found that as many as 44 per cent of women and 37 per cent of men (depending on the age band) would like to have at least three children. The proportion of women whose ideal was two was only slightly larger at 46 per cent, while for men it was 53 per cent. Less than 10 per cent of men and women in all age bands wanted one child or none-four was a more popular choice.

The French Prime Minister's rationale for his new cash incentive suggests that many French people also aspire to larger families. In the United States third-or-higher order births have been creeping up without any particular incentives, increasing from a low of 25 per cent of births in 1984 to 28 per cent in 2002.

Ivy League mothers
Noting the modest US trend last year the Wall Street Journal asked, "Is Three the New Two?" The Journal cited anecdotal evidence that this is occurring particularly among more affluent women.

A trend towards home-based and even full-time motherhood may indicate a change in values away from the career-woman model of the past couple of decades who "takes time out" for a baby or two. The New York Times a week ago pinpointed this very change, occurring where one would least expect it-among young women at Ivy League colleges.

Smart, high-achieving students told the Times things like: "My mother always told me you can't be the best career woman and best mother at the same time. You have to choose one over the other." And, "I've seen the difference between kids who did have their mother stay at home and kids who didn't..."

A survey of 138 female students at Yale last year found that 60 per cent of them planned to cut back on work or stop entirely when they had children. This is a source of dismay to some female staff at the colleges as they see hard-won opportunities going down the sink with the baby's bathwater. But it seems middle-class women have never given up their role in the home. Surveys of Yale alumni from classes between 1979 and 1994 show that only about half of the women were still in employment, or regarded paid employment as their primary activity, by the time they reached their early 40's.

Women students surveyed by Times appear to be taking their cue not from their teachers but from their mothers, about three out of five of whom did not work at all, took several years off or worked only part-time. By putting child rearing before their career, these young women will be much more likely to go on to have a third or fourth child.

Work-life balance?
In 1998 and 1999 the British Government organised a major research project which revealed a diversity of values regarding work and family.

Catherine Hakim, a sociologist at the London School of Economics, analysed the data and came to the conclusion that in rich modern societies like Britain, only about 20 per cent of women have paid work as their main focus. Childless women are concentrated in this group, marriage (or cohabitation) is less likely, and they are not responsive to social/family policy.

Another 20 per cent are home-centred, with family life and children as their main priority through life. These women prefer not to go out to work but will if they have to-as many as 40 per cent in the study were in full-time work.

The remaining 60 per cent of women are adaptive to either priority. This group includes women who want to combine work and family, plus "drifters" and women who have unplanned careers.

Home-centred and adaptive women are most likely to be married (or cohabiting) and stay married. Their fertility is higher, with home-centred women having twice as many children as work-centred women.

Moreover, home-centred women are not responsive to employment policy, says Hakim, although the number of children they have is affected by government social policy and other financial factors. In other words, they have no use for maternity leave provisions but a lot of use for a family allowance. Adaptive women, however, are very responsive to both social and employment policy.

On the strength of this analysis, Hakim says governments that want to raise fertility should focus on policies to support home-centred women and those adaptive women who lean towards the family as their main priority. She recommends in particular the home care allowances paid to women in France, Finland and Norway which are not linked to whether they were working before they had a child, but are simply a payment to the woman for the work of bringing up a child in her home.

Investing in good values
Governments, clearly, can help or hinder fertility. But what they do matters far less than the values people bring to that issue. A small study conducted in Australia in the late 1990s by Rachel Meyer of Monash University shows values relating to marriage are critical. Meyer found the factors predicting larger family size were:
* Marrying - women who had not been in a de facto relationship that did not lead to marriage were 2.6 times more likely to progress to a third child.
* Marrying young - women who were 27 or younger when their second child was born were 3.8 times more likely than other women to have three or more children.
* Having children quickly - women who had two or fewer years between their first and second births were twice as likely as other women to have a larger family.
* Having unplanned children - women who said their first child was unplanned were 1.6 times more likely to have more children.
* Having religious values - Catholic women were also 1.6 times more likely to go on to have more children.
These are the women population planners warned us about. They are also the remedy for the birth dearth brought about in the name of planning. Governments who put an allowance or two their way will find their investment well-rewarded.





新助成金は、小さい子どもがいる家族に支給される既存の給付金の上限を2倍にしたもので、大家族を奨励する社会援助策に輪をかけたものだ。他の社会援助策の中には、給料のほとんどすべてをもらいながら、第一子誕生時の20週に始まり第三子誕生時には40週あるいはそれ以上の休暇を取れる出産休暇や手頃な値段の大規模な育児ネットワークがある。同様に、公共交通機関をほとんど無料で利用でき、一ヶ月に300ユーロの手当てが支給される 。

子供は2人にするようにというプロパガンダが数十年間続けられた後で、仏政府は、突然、腰を低くして3人の子どもを産むようにと話すようになった。これは、女性の平均出生率が1.4である欧州だけの話ではない。 女性の合計特殊出生率が1.2までに低下した日本、台湾、韓国などがある東アジアでもこのように言われているのだ。韓国では、ついこの前の1980年代には「二人でも多すぎる」と言われ、昨年まで公費で不妊手術を受けることができた。今韓国では不妊手術の取り消しを無料で受けられ、第三子、第四子のために無料で育児介護を受けられる。






















* 結婚―正規の結婚をしている女性は、内縁の関係にある女性に比べて、2・6倍の確率で第三子を産む。
* 結婚した若い女性―第二子が生まれたときに27歳以下であった女性は、28歳以上の女性に比べて、3・8倍の確率で第三子あるいはそれ以上の子どもを産む。
* 子どもを産む間隔が短い―第一子と第二子を産む間隔が2年以下の女性は、その他の女性に比べて、2倍の確率でたくさんの子どもを産む。
* 計画外の子ども―第一子は計画外であったと答えた女性は、そうでない女性よりも1・6倍の確率で、さらに子どもを産む。
* 宗教的価値観を持っている―カトリック信者の女性は、そうでない女性よりも1・6倍の確率で子どもを産み続ける。

1 2005年9月22日、ドビルパン首相は、「第10回家族会議」において、「育児休業改革」を柱とする新たな家族政策を発表した。ドビルパンの新政策の詳細については〈http://www.jil.go.jp/foreign/jihou/2005_11/france_01.htm〉参照のこと。
3 Louise Story,"Many Women at Elite Colleges Set. Career Path to Motherhood,"New York Times, 20 September 2005 <http://pathbox.wustl.edu/~awn/awntop/news/motherhood.pdf>
4 米国東部の名門大学グループのこと。ブラウン大学、コロンビア大学、コーネル大学、ペンシルヴァニア大学、ハーバード大学、プリンストン大学、イェール大学、ダートマス大学の8大学。
5 米国コネティカット州ニューヘヴンにある1701年創立の名門私立大学。イェールという大学の名称は、大学に寄付を続けていた英国の植民地行政官イエールの名に由来する。
6 London School of Economics
ロンドンスクール・オブ・エコノミクス◆ロンドン大学を構成する一校。社会科学を専門にする。経済学に限らず、国際関係学・社会政策の分野においても世界最高水準の実績を誇っている。LSE出身者の主な実績としては、ノーベル賞13人、首相または大統領は33人(John F. Kennedyなど)
8 オーストラリアのメルボルン郊外のクレイトンにある大学。1958年創立。