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Does the United States Incentivize Pregnancy Enough?

In 2020, the birthrate in the United States fell by 4%, hitting another record low according to npr.org. Birthrates have been declining in the US for six consecutive years, which begs the question of whether or not the United States government is incentivizing women to conceive a child.

Prior to 2013, Lestijärvi, Finland was facing a severe birth rate decline with only one child being born per year. To counteract that decline, local officials began to implement a baby bonus. This bonus essentially ensured that when a child was born, it was worth 10,000 euros and it was paid to the family over the course of 10 years. Financial incentives to have children have become more common in nations like Finland, Estonia, Italy, Japan, and Australia. Finland has other programs including the baby box starter kit and a monthly allowance for parents of 100 euros, according to money.com.

In the United States, under the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, women are able to go on unpaid maternity leave for only twelve weeks. Compared to other countries, that is less than incentivizing. In Australia, women get to take 18 weeks of maternity leave with 7.5 of those weeks being paid full-time. In Austria, women are paid full-time to take 16 weeks of maternity leave. In Bulgaria, women can take 65 weeks of maternity leave with full pay, according to unicef.org.

Lastly, the United States lacks in providing parents with affordable childcare options. According to moms.com, many parents are spending roughly $10,000 per year on childcare, or about $215 per week. Looking around the world, parents in France spend roughly $580.80 per month. In Finland, some parents pay $350 a month. Lastly, some parents in Sweden only pay $35 a month.

So, does the United States incentivize people to have a child? Well, when comparing it to other countries around the world, not really. What first time mom would want to have a child with only 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave and then have to pay an additional $10, 000 per year for daycare? If the United States wants to increase birthrates, then they need to provide parents incentives.

Communication Major Political Science Major Concentration in Human Communication Member of the UIndy Honors College Her Campus at Indy Vice President and Co-Social Media Director
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