X Close

Why the West should have more kids There's nothing wrong with a little pro-natalism

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images


September 2, 2022   5 mins

Kristina Ozturk is about as far from the model of Soviet motherhood as can be imagined. A 25-year-old former stripper, she and her husband Galip have been farming out their foetuses to surrogates to allow them to have 22 children in the space of 19 months. Their dream of having more than 100 has been derailed since Galip was detained on money-laundering charges. Fortunately, Kristina has not been left to parent single-handed: she and her husband employ 16 nannies.

Even if Galip’s funds do dry up, there’s good news for Kristina: a million rubles might be coming her way shortly. President Vladimir Putin recently announced that he would reinstate the Soviet-era Mother Heroine award, which bestows a lump sum to any Russian mother upon her tenth child’s first birthday. It’s not clear whether Kristina will be eligible for another million rubles when her 20th child reaches the age of one, nor is it certain that hers is the kind of motherhood Putin wants to encourage. After all, she has left Mother Russia and married a Turk: she is not boosting the Russian birth rate.

Is it any wonder pro-natalism does not have a good reputation in the West right now? Urgently necessary though some of us believe it to be, the need for more children is a subject which polite politicians and pundits in most democracies steer clear of, leaving the field to autocrats such as Putin and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. But unless politicians — whether on the Left or Right — reclaim pro-natalism, they might doom their societies.

This ought to be particularly easy for the Left, which has a rich tradition of pro-natalism. Marx made a nemesis of the Reverend Malthus, who suggested that there was a natural limit to population, and unless humans controlled their fertility, they would live predominantly in penury and misery. This philosophy led many of Malthus’s followers — some of whom became prominent administrators of Empire — to shrug indifferently at both famine in Ireland and India and hunger at home. Marx and Engels launched fearsome attacks; to them, Malthus was a “lackey of the bourgeoisie” and his philosophy “a libel on the human race”. Misery was not the result of the proletariat breeding but of the elite exploiting them. In the socialist nirvana, once the exploitative land-owning class had been removed, there would be population expansion and plenty for all.

True, the communist autocrats of the 20th century went too far in their pursuit of this nirvana. Stalin, too, believed that “the most precious capital, the most decisive capital is human beings”. While this did not prevent him and his regime from snuffing out millions of such beings, they were eager for their creation too, and disseminated posters of large happy families of proletarians. Soviet womanhood was lauded for its procreativity as well as its labour, and the Mother Heroine award — the one revived by Putin — continued in the USSR into the days of Gorbachev. Mao, meanwhile, was consistently pro-natalist, despite efforts from those below him to keep China’s population in check: “It is a very good thing that China has a big population. Even if China’s population multiplies many times, she is fully capable of finding a solution; the solution is production.”

Today, China has pledged to make fertility treatment more available, while also cracking down on abortion, over concerns about birth rates. Meanwhile, in Cuba, the arrival of Castro was accompanied by a baby boom, in part due to restrictions on abortion. These have long been phased out and Cuba has a very low fertility rate. But the regime in Havana still offers lower tax rates to those with children.

In short, it’s understandable that pro-natalist policies have become associated with autocracy. Obviously, today’s progressives are better off disavowing Stalin, Mao and Castro. But disavowing pro-natalist policies in general is short-sighted. When I suggested last month that the British government could restructure the tax system to incentivise families to have children, I was met with howls of horror by the progressive crowd and suggestions that I must be somewhere to the Right of Attila the Hun. But while amending the tax system to encourage childbearing and acknowledge its costs seems out of bounds to the Left, it was a Labour government in 1946 which first introduced such a concept into the benefits system, in the form of family allowance.

Today, childbearing has emphatically ceased to be a Leftist cause. At the more extreme end of the spectrum, the understandably distressing news that Roe vs Wade had been overturned in the US was met with a barrage of anti-natalism. The Guardian, for instance, published testimonies by women who bitterly regretted getting pregnant, including those based in nations where abortion rights are not threatened. “Getting pregnant was the worst thing that could have happened to me,” said one interviewee in Mexico. “I hate my reality, the life I didn’t chose,” said a Spanish mother, while another from Germany said: “If I could start over again, I wouldn’t have had any of my children.” It is not that we should never hear such voices, it is simply that their elevation has somewhat precluded the Left’s potential to make a positive case for the continuation of humanity.

There is solid evidence that people in the UK would like on average to have between two and two and half children — but today are having barely one and a half. This is surely an opportunity for Labour to appeal to an electorate of instinctively pro-natal millennials whose circumstances are frustrating them from having larger families.

What of the Right? For all the policy ground covered in the long Tory leadership race, little has been said on the subject. Liz Truss has suggested tax changes to make it easier for one parent to stay at home, which, worthy or not, is not designed to boost the birth rate. In other words, the Right, too, is failing aspiring parents — and the Left would do well to capitalise on this failure.

For inspiration, Keir Starmer might look to Sweden, a socially liberal nation that touts the second-highest birth rate in Europe. Since the start of the century, the average Swedish woman has around half a child more than the average woman in Greece, a socially conservative nation that has the second-lowest birth rate in Europe. A clue as to why this might be lies in the fact that, when it comes to women’s rights, Sweden and Greece are once again at opposite ends of a European spectrum. Well over 60% of Swedish women participate in the workplace, but only 43% of Greek women do.

In some ways, this is counterintuitive. You might think that where women are staying at home, they are staying at home to take care of children, and that when they are pursuing careers, they are doing so at the expense of having babies. But nothing could be further from the truth. The best way to persuade women who have been given equal rights to bear the next generation is to give them opportunities to partake of those rights in the labour market. This requires finding creative ways — whether through the agency of government or employers or both — of combining work and family. In Sweden, childcare is subsidised and parental leave exceptionally generous.

This is not just a question of Sweden and Greece; they are merely exemplars of a much wider trend. In countries where female participation in the labour force is low, from Portugal to Japan, so too is the fertility rate. This leaves us in a quandary. Where the progressives set the cultural agenda in places like the UK, any advocacy of motherhood is met with anger and scorn. Where conservative values prevail, in places like Greece and Japan, the limitation of a woman’s right to combine family and career depresses the birth rate.

Despite Putin and OrbĂĄn, the time has come to proclaim a new, liberal pro-natalism: one that empowers women and men to have the children the evidence proves they want, allows them to combine parenthood with a career, and which acknowledges that, however the family is defined and redefined in the 21st century, a philosophy which places the individual at the centre cannot exists without individuals.


Dr. Paul Morland is a business consultant and senior member at St Antony’s College, Oxford. His latest book is Tomorrow’s People: The Future of Humanity in Ten Numbers.


Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

52 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

I feel that basing your argument on how to encourage women to have more children on Sweden is a bit incomplete. Yes, Sweden (and other Nordic countries) are very good at creating social systems where childbearing & career can be combined. However, what you should also ask when looking at average numbers of babies per woman is to what extent immigrant communities are contributing to this trend.
ï»żObviously this is a bit of a political hot potato – but it is a necessary thing to ask and consider. Conservative Muslim families tend to have a lot of children and so – logically – if you have a large proportion of such a demographic in the country, it is going to have an effect on the birth rate stats.
Refusing to countenance and discuss that question inevitably skews the data based on which decisions about how to structure/reform a social system are made. How are you meant to achieve any given objective if your basic data is duff/not giving you the right insights?

Last edited 1 year ago by Katharine Eyre
Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

It’s actually not having much of an effect here, because the Muslims aren’t having large families. They are sitting at 2.2 or 2.3 children, so larger but not even by a whole child.
And by the second generation, they are having fewer children than ethnic Swedes, says Statistikmyndigheten. I am looking for the paper, but cannot remember where I put it online.

Last edited 1 year ago by Laura Creighton
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

Basically, the same thing is happening here in Austria with Turkish women. In the 60s, Turkish women had an average of 6 children each; by the 80s it had fallen to 4 – now it’s just over 2 (still more than Austrians). You could say that this is following the trends back in Turkey but I think it is also to do with people having integrated and 2nd/3rd generation immigrants taking on the trends in the host country. It will be interesting to see what happens to these statistics in the next few years as the effects of women coming in from less developed countries where women do tend to have more children (e.g. Afghanistan; in 2020 the average no. of children born per woman there was 4.75) feed into the statistics.

Last edited 1 year ago by Katharine Eyre
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago

It interests me that Bangladesh’s fertility rate is trending down and is only just above replacement, ditto India, but Pakistan’s is surging ahead.
I don’t know why , except that life is improving even in many “basket case” countries.
A Nigerian colleague whose parents are a “mixed marriage” of Muslim and Christian, told me that she is certain Muslims will overcome the Christian population there in ten years.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brendan O'Leary
Sandy Tatham
Sandy Tatham
1 year ago

I’ve travelled in both countries and saw what was happening on the ground. Bangladesh has had a female Prime Minister for 18 years. She promotes very rigorous programmes for female health, female education and family planning which are clearly working. Pakistan also has a family planning programme but their government is less effective in this area.

Bina Shah
Bina Shah
1 year ago
Reply to  Sandy Tatham

We don’t have much of a family planning program left. It’s been waylaid by religious right-wingers, while education for women remains at very low levels.

Sandy Tatham
Sandy Tatham
1 year ago
Reply to  Bina Shah

Oh that’s so sad to hear. I was in Bangladesh just before elections in 2013 and it did seem that the rise of Islamic fundamentalism was going to consume a lot of energy and resources.

Matt M
Matt M
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

That was my initial thought too tbh.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
1 year ago

Why does the subject of children have to be dichotomosied into “pro natalist” and “anti natalist” positions in a nauseatingly tribal American way?
Many of us who you might call “anti natalist” are not against having children, per se. What we point out is that there is a demographic explosion happening in central Africa which, left unaddressed, will continue to change the world as we know it.
As I have pointed out on Unherd before: Nigeria, as a key example, is the size of Texas.
Texas has 30 million people in it and Nigeria has 230 million people in it.
Nigeria will double its population in the next 23 years, bringing it close to half a billion people. It will have to build 10 million new homes a year, find 10 million new school places each year, find 10 million new jobs and provide electricity, water and infrastructure to these 10 million new people. It will need to do this while being unable to provide these things for its existing population.
When this fails to happen, and it will (because not even Sweden or Norway would be able to accommodate this kind of population growth, much less a corrupt, tribal banana republic fractured by fanatical islam) migrants will turn up on European shores by the million.
Whatever migration problems Europe now faces is a summer breeze compared to the hurricane on its way.
Let countries in demographic decline have more children.
But don’t imagine that this is the central problem facing the World. We are not heading for a global “demographic” collapse. The population projections show that Africa will add 3 billion new people to the planet within the next 70 years. Falling populations elsewhere will not compensate for this growth.
Most opinion poles show that over 50% of Africans want to leave. So 1.5 billion people, at the very least, will have their eye on moving elsewhere and, at the very most, the means of doing so.
So the real question is: how will this mass migration reality be accommodated globally?
Given that most would-be illegal migrants are not skilled and not educated, and given that most jobs which require low skill are being rapidly automated away, how, exactly, are the “pro natalists” going to solve this mass migration reality?

Last edited 1 year ago by hayden eastwood
Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

The argument that the discprencies in the birthrate, for example Sweden v’s Greece, are due to whether women take part in the labour market or not does’nt make sense. This is contradicted completely when you see that Turkey has the highest birthrate and the lowest rate of mothers and women participating in the labour market.

The article seems to be a subtle attempt to push the view that motherhood + work outside the home is desirable.
Some confirmation bias going on I think.

Perhaps what affects the birthrate more is economic confidence. Greece has had a particularly volatile and difficult time over the past two decades. It would be interesting to know what their birth rate was in more economically settled times.

Just checked, in 1980 the birth rate in Greece was 2.23 (1.27 in 2021), in Sweden it was 1.68 (1.84 in 2021). During the 1980s female participation in the labour market in Sweden was one of the highest in Europe.

Last edited 1 year ago by Claire D
Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

1980 was at the bottom of one of the birthrate troughs around here.
https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/SWE/sweden/birth-rate
It looks like we may be able to see a relationship between an increasing birthrate and a real estate bubble …. which falls like a rock when the bubble bursts. I’d say your ‘economic confidence’ theory gets significant support from this.

Last edited 1 year ago by Laura Creighton
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

Is that due to emigration of young people, considering that youth unemployment in southern Europe is very high?

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
1 year ago

The perversity of the situation is that the current generation cannot afford to have children because they are funding the retirements of their parents generation but will see their own pension benefits vastly reduced by the fact they have so few children to support their own retirements.

Surely it’s time that means tested pensions are introduced and defined benefit, tax payer funded schemes, are scrapped, to at least reduce some of the 100 billion per year pensions bill?

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

“Surely it’s time that means tested pensions are introduced and defined benefit, tax payer funded schemes, are scrapped, to at least reduce some of the 100 billion per year pensions bill?”
It is not a bill. It’s an idea that sits alongside maternity leave, childcare, disability insurance, hospitals, police, military, and so on.
Do you really believe the birth rate is dropping because of pensioners?
Sweden has a very big pension scheme and a very high birth rate.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
A Spetzari
A Spetzari
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

UK – 1.65 per woman – “low”
Sweden – 1.70 per woman – “very high”
Source – from 2019. One above linked in article is from 2021 and states 1.74 for UK and 1.84 for Sweden.
My money’s on Sweden’s resistance to covid-induced nonsense and high immigrant population having an impact. One economic and one social.
Agree that it’s not just because of pensioners – but the general trend is correct that western birthrates are dropping and financially people are more reluctant to have children when the age of home ownership is rising also.
What the article omits is that the UK and some others have also had proportional increases in birthrates over same period, albeit at odds with the overall trend

Last edited 1 year ago by A Spetzari
Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
1 year ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

I wonder why the numbers in your source are different than the ones here?
https://www.statista.com/statistics/612074/fertility-rates-in-european-countries/
UK – 1.74 Sweden 1.84 by that source.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
1 year ago

sorry – edit – different years. But similar gap.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Which is not a big difference. Is it?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Matthew Powell

First you have to eliminate those who actually paid, over a lifetime for their pensions (ie those in receipt of contributory pensions). They are simply getting their own money, plus interest, returned to them. Within that cohort are all those who paid but died before they could reclaim their own (though much of that goes to widow(er)s).
Secondly, (in Ireland at least: I assume also in the UK?).. non-contributory pensions are already means tested.
So your point is largely incorrect. HOWEVER, where you might well make some savings is in politicians’ pensions: here in Ireland they only have to serve a mere 4 years and then qualify for a pension immediately, irrespective of age! It’s obscene but I guess if you make up the rules (or get your friends on a so-called ‘independent’ committee to do so) you’re gonna do just that: especially if you’re a greedy, grasping snout-in-the-through as so many politicians are these days!

Mike K
Mike K
1 year ago

It’s all about belief in the future. The only OECD country with a strongly positive birth rate is Israel. All its communities, inc secular.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

I am slightly surprised that the issue of quality has not been mentioned in the discussion about quantity.

The problem is that the people in the UK who can best afford to have children are those who are prepared to subsist on state handouts for their children who are for the most part, and there are inevitably exceptions, less intelligent less motivated to improve their lot and less able to raise citizens who will make a positive contribution to the future. The statistics regarding those without fathers involved in the process of raising children are stark and discussed in the recent article on criminal gangs in Liverpool.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
1 year ago

Try average student university debt of ÂŁ18,000 (which is only about housing, because there is no tuition) , good wages for people in the trades who didn’t go to university (and plenty of ways to be trained in them for free or close to that) + housing priced and designed for young people who want to start a family and not ‘generous family leave’ to explain why Swedes are able to have the more children they want.
Note that while the foreign born are having more children (fertility rate 2.21) than Swedes (fertility rate 1.84) it is not by a huge amount.

Last edited 1 year ago by Laura Creighton
John Solomon
John Solomon
1 year ago

It becomes a huge amount over time : the rate may stay the same, but the numbers increase generation by generation.

Alan Bright
Alan Bright
1 year ago

It does seem a little counter-intuitive (as the writer says) that making child care more affordable – ie taking money from non-parents so (mostly) mothers can pay (mostly) other women to look after their children – is seen as a solution.
Rather than giving money only to parents who want other people to look after their children a better solution would be to increase child benefit across the board. That way, couples who wanted one of them to be a stay-at-home parent would be helped – as would those who wanted to outsource childcare, with no aspersions cast either way.

Last edited 1 year ago by Alan Bright
Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago

It does seem strange that there is no discussion of what looks very much like … the world has simply too many humans in it already, and even more are forecast! Climate change, resource depletion etc – surely these are rather important?

John Solomon
John Solomon
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

No, the world has too many of the wrong sort of humans in it – the ones who are living in squalor and misery, or are trying to drag others down to their medieval level. There are not enough productive, civilised citizens of the planet.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

“however the family is defined and redefined in the 21st century, a philosophy which places the individual at the centre cannot exists without individuals.”

But if this individual is supported in their life with subsidised childcare and maternity leave, are they really free individuals, free to make choices so that their “individuality” functions at the centre of, presumably, society? Or will they be inclined to keep an eye on which way the wind blows and respond accordingly? Ultimately subsidised childcare becomes a political issue, which those women can do without. To me that doesn’t make them free, which is what an individual is, or should be.

“In countries where female participation in the labour force is low, from Portugal to Japan, so too is the fertility rate.”
What are these women actually doing with their life’s. And are these two things necessarily related?

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

The ‘freedom’ being pursued here is explicitly individualistic. Here is Lars TrĂ€gĂ„rdh, a Swedish professor and historian writing in: “Statist Individualism: The Swedish Theory of Love and Its Lutheran Imprint,” in Between the State and the Eucharist: Free Church Theology in Conversation with William T. Kavanaugh, Joel Halldorf and Fredrik Wenell (eds.) (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2014) which you can read as a google book if you like.

What is unique about Swedish social policy is neither the extent to which the state has intervened in society nor the generous insurance schemes, but the underlying moral logic. Though the path in no way has been straight, one can discern over the course of the twentieth century an overarching ambition to liberate the individual citizen from all forms of subordination and dependency in civil society: the poor from charity, the workers from their employers, wives from their husbands, children from parents (and vice versa when the parents have become elderly).

In practice, the primacy of individual autonomy has been institutionalized through a plethora of laws and practices 
 . Interdependency within the family has been minimized through individual taxation of spouses, family law reforms have revoked obligations to support elderly parents, more or less universal day care makes it possible for women to work, student loans which are blind in relation to the income of parents or spouse give young adults a large degree of autonomy in relation to their families, and children are given a more independent status through the abolition of corporal punishment and a strong emphasis on children’s rights. All in all, this legislation has made Sweden into the least family-dependent and the most individualized society on the face of the earth.

In this regime, families become “voluntary associations”—despite continuing to exhibit high-investment parenting as indicated by high levels of time spent with children. Nordic families are relatively prone to “independence (of children), individualism, and (gender) equality.” The “Swedish theory of love” is that partners should not be dependent on each other—that true love means not entering a relationship as dependent on any way (e.g., financially) on the other person. Surveys of values confirm that Nordic societies cluster together in scoring high on “emancipatory self-expression.”Nordic societies also cluster at the top of social trust, despite also being high on secular/rational values, despite trust typically being associated with religiosity. Finally, the high standing on “generalized trust” provides economic advantages because it lowers “transaction costs”—less need for written contracts and legal protections, law suits, etc.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

Very interesting reading. Thanks for putting it up. So what is it that stops others from doing this successfully?

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

My guess is that Nordic culture is very different from (especially post-Thatcher) UK culture is one crucial respect. Nordics are slightly ashamed of their wealth and very proud of distributing that wealth.
By contrast, in UK culture the obscenely rich appear to carry no guilt whatever and justify that by seeing the poor as leeches on society. Of coure I generalise hugely.
It’s an evolutionary thing as well as a moral thing and leadership has a significant inpact as well. Basically it all took a wrong turn with Thatcherism/Reaganism..

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

This excerpt prompted me to take a quick look at Sweden. It seems all is not well at the moment. Part of this seems to be their open borders policy and the fallout from it. Which has resulted in a more caustic political landscape. There’s a lot more than this. But it does look like their insularity was their advantage and that there was general agreement on policy. Now that seems to have fractured under pressure from the outside world.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

I am not so sure about that. It doesn’t seem all that caustic to me. The election on the 11th is all about crime. And there is now broad consensus that multiculturalism as given to us by the Social Democrats hasn’t worked, and almost certainly cannot work. The Social Democrats believed that the immigrants would be beholden to them forever, and have been rudely awakened to the spectacle of the immigrants flocking to the Swedish Democrats — the anti-immigration party — and working in their offices and getting the vote out for _them_ in the immigrant areas. They are saying things like: it’s racist of the Social Democrats to believe that I would have more loyalty to the people of my ethnic background than other law abiding members of society of whatever background. I hate criminals, perhaps especially when they come from the same roots as I do, and I want them all in jail.
Now the Social Democrats don’t have any ideology except ‘we do whatever will keep us in power’, so now they are competing on Swedish Nationalism — good (but you want our sort, not their sort); We will lock up more criminals than they will, promise; much tougher citizenship requirements with language proficiency as part of it, (there already is state funded language instruction in Swedish, so this should be attainable by pretty much anybody who isn’t suffering from some sort of learning disability), require the children who do not speak Swedish to attend daycare so they can get a head start on learning it, and various other things that are aimed at assimilation. This is the _Swedish Labour_ party talking. Never has a leopard so quickly changed its spots!
You probably won’t hear much of that in the English language press, though, since by the most part it is written by people who politically are where the Social Democrats used to be … until about six months ago when the polls showed them that they were going to lose the election big time.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

I’m posting this not to pull the rug out from under you but to suggest that their welfare policy seems to have had a limited lifetime. As have all welfare policies around the world. Eventually the money becomes a problem. For me this reinforces the precariousness and theoretical position of the “individual” I mentioned earlier.
“Sweden’s welfare problems affect people’s daily lives. Average earners in Sweden pay half their income in direct and indirect taxes. Yet, the famous Swedish welfare state is plagued by difficulties in accessing health care. Some individuals and companies are therefore turning toward private health insurance. At the end of 2017, 643,000 individuals in Sweden were fully covered by private health insurance.

At the end of 2017, 643,000 individuals in Sweden were fully covered by private health insurance.

 This is an increase of over half a million users compared to 2000. The public pension system has over time become less generous, which has pushed citizens to set up private pension funds through their employers or otherwise. Unemployment insurance has similarly become less generous, leading to the creation of complementary private insurances.”
https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/09/05/so-long-swedish-welfare-state/

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

Be careful when you read about Sweden in _Foreign Policy_. They have several staff members who hate the welfare state, and always want to privatise everything, and some very bitter ex-pat Swedes who just hate Sweden. For every study they produce saying “Lo! The end of the welfare state is nigh!” you can get another saying “Chicken Little reports Sky is Falling, Again.”
Plus, experiments with privatisation have often produced service that is even more inefficient than the State run version was. Everybody I know wants the old post office back, but too late for that. There is a serious government investigation going on now about ‘what the heck happened to everybody’s mail last summer’. It’s a real scandal.
In my corner of the world, ‘efficient’ is no longer seen as a good thing. It’s connected in the public mind with supply chain dependence on foreign sources, and thus fragile. Public mood is for less efficient and more robust. But that may be Göteborg perspective, because this is the main port, where all the trade comes from. Whether all the rest of Sweden is down on ‘efficient’ I do not know.
But the Social Democrats, who want to make public health more ‘efficient’ by joining smaller regions into ‘one big cash saving unit’ are meeting stiff opposition from the public. Seems that some of the smaller regions are also ranked as the best in terms of how long it takes to get an operation, and satisfaction with the service, etc. ‘Cheaper but Lousier’ is not very popular here, at least when it comes to Healthcare.

Last edited 1 year ago by Laura Creighton
Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

I take your point about reporting. It’s not that I’m supporting privatisation or against welfare. It’s that the “individual” exists at the behest of others.
“a philosophy which places the individual at the centre cannot exists without individuals.”

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

Too bad we can’t go discuss this in a pub around here. It would go better with beer.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

Yeah, I’m beginning to lose my train of thought.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago

Why do people find it reprehensible that politicians change their policies when conditions change? I do that all the time: don’t you?
Why do people vilify politicians when they change course, having under/overestimated the result of a policy decision? I do that all the time. I change tack to suit. Don’t you?
Why to people expect politicians to never make a mistake? I make mistakes: don’t you? And then I correct my mistake as best I can and I try not to make that same mistake again. Don’t you do that?
Haven’t you noticed that politicians are flawed human beings and so they get things wrong frim time to time, as we do?
To vilify them for a U-turn is to put obstacles in the way of progress! Why do people do that! It means it’s often easier for the same politicians to persist with bad policies so as to save face and get reelected! That can’t be good can it?

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
1 year ago
Reply to  Liam O'Mahony

I didn’t find it reprehensible that they changed their policies, rather the opposite for precisely the reason you state. The question is, can we trust them to keep their word about what they are going to do if we elect them next week? The entire country is holding its breath on this one.
Edit: I’d have expected them to come out with a stack of studies if their position was ‘we have changed our mind about things in the light of new evidence’. That we aren’t seeing. So is it really all about ‘what will get you to vote for me ?’. The leader of the Centre Party says that for the last 4 years, the Social Democrats have governed on the Centre Party (one of their coalition partners) Platform. Now they appear to want to govern on a subset of the Swedish Democrats Platform, though still not wanting to go into government with them. It makes it impossible to know what you are getting next from the Social Democrats, and really hard to see how they can put together a coalition after election, given the parties who say they won’t be joining them this time. So, for a lot of reasons, everybody is holding their breath around here.

Last edited 1 year ago by Laura Creighton
R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

They’d rather just import millions from abroad than promote native birthrates.

Liam O'Mahony
Liam O'Mahony
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

Of course! They are easier to exploit, will put up with bad working condions and will do work that home grown folk will not do! If you’re in the “Exploitor class” what’s not to like?

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

Maybe there’s a reason, and maybe a good reason, for falling “native birthdates”. We may not yet know the reason and the benefit. But if you’re calling for promotion of birth rates by the government, those that have messed up everything, you may end up creating an unforeseeable problem. Or is this deep seated anxiety about racial numbers?

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
Rafi Stern
Rafi Stern
1 year ago

Israel has a pro-natal policy mainly due to pressure from the “haredi” religious parties. Israel has the highest birth rate in the world for a developed country, and both the culture and the tax system are very child friendly. People have large families here. I have five children, which is not that rare. Participation of women in the workforce is high, despite the large number of births per woman. And unlike Europe, Israel has no shortage of young people. We do have a land and housing shortage though, and wild and ever increasing real estate prices.
The pro-natal policies also lead to some distortions. The haredi population sector is poor due to ideological low participation in the workforce and large families. The pro-natal policies are ostensibly welfare relief for poor families but encourage entitlement and reliance on welfare to pick up the bill for ideological and institutionalized bad life choices. Another sector of the population that benefits is the Bedouin Arabs who practice polygamy. Polygamy is illegal in Israel, so the multiple wives are for the sake of the government bureaucracy single mothers, and rake in benefits.

Henry Haslam
Henry Haslam
1 year ago

The demographic problems resulting from falling populations are more easily dealt with than the consequences of overpopulation.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago

The best way to increase population is to get employers to pay salaries based on how many children employees have.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Are we talking about global population or specific countries. Because there’s not really a general population shortage is there, just a specific shortage?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

Countries where low birth-rates are seen as a problem.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

So, USA, the UK, Canada, Europe, Australia? What is the problem?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

Japan and Russia too, just to name a few. I think you are reading too much into my words.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
1 year ago

We have an overpopulated world.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
1 year ago

Why encourage more children in the West when we are constantly told there are far too many people in the world? If we get to a place where women in the West, who can, have a single child, just maybe there will be a decrease in the number of people in the world. Why shouldn’t brown and black people be the majority across all countries on the planet?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

Nothing at all, in theory. My grandfather, who fought in the second world war, once made a remark about the mass-immigration that was starting to take place in the 1960s and 70s. He said, “once we start letting them all in, they will try to change things to their way.” Whether correct or incorrect in his statement remains to be seen, but I think his words broadly reflect the fears many, particularly working class people, have toward multiculturalism.