Nanny State

Burning the Bun in the Oven

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pregnant

In Australia, they pay women to have babies. The amount of the baby bonus has been increasing in fits and starts, causing women to cross their legs and wait until the higher figures kick in before they let they kicking fetuses out.

The bonus, introduced by the previous Howard government in 2004 as a means of boosting birth rates and as an alternative to paid maternity leave, is due to rise to $5,000 from $4,187 on July 1….

Australian National University economist Andrew Leigh said it is an unhealthy incentive for women to over-cook their babies, with about 1,000 births delayed in 2004 so that mothers were eligible to receive the bonus.

Never fear! Freakonomics-style academics are on the case, with a 2004 paper[PDF] noting that this is a classic cause of government incentives causing harmful distortions–extra time in the womb can mean trouble for mom and baby. This time around, they'd hoped to convince the country to phase in the payments, but it looks like it's a no go.

Via Alex Tabarrok

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  1. They’re paying women to have babies?! Someone let Chuck DeVore know so he can add that to his bill.

  2. I wonder if there’s work for paid impregnators.

    *updates resume*

  3. That woman looks like she stuck her arms into the oven with the broiler set for ‘incinerate’. Either that or she just spent too much time at Majorca.

  4. Is outsourcing the pregnancy considered an acceptable way of getting the $5k.

    Australia is awfully close to some of the world’s poorest countries. There has to be an opportunity there for some enterprising Australian.

  5. The bonus, introduced by the previous Howard government in 2004 as a means of boosting birth rates and as an alternative to paid maternity leave…

    An alternative to paid maternity leave eh? Your ideas intrigue me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  6. I wonder if there’s work for paid impregnators.

    Taktix? – You are totally unqualified. Leave it to the pros.

  7. Australia is awfully close to some of the world’s poorest countries. There has to be an opportunity there for some enterprising Australian.

    Aww man, it’s Australian women rather than Austrian women?

    I tender my resignation as a professional male impregnator.

  8. Aww man, it’s Australian women rather than Austrian women?

    I tender my resignation as a professional male impregnator.

    While Aussie ladies may not be the hottest on the plant, they are comfortably situated in the top 5%. I found them wonderful, interesting, no nonsense women. And HOTT!

  9. How do you delay a birth? Does that translate to “rejected the doctor’s request to induce labor”?

  10. In a strict economic sense, subsidizing fertility is a huge mistake.

    The first 20-some years of a human lifespan are an entirely unproductive drain on resources, as are, in most cases, the years after age 70 or so.

    A sensible economic policy aimed at improving productivity would put an end to subsidies for children and the elderly, and instead focus on improving individual mobility options to keep everyone happy. (i.e. Import 20 year old workers and export 65 year old retirees).

    However, this would require a population that’s not shit-scared of foreigners.

  11. Wouldn’t the simple solution be to backdate the payment schedule say, 10 months or so? (eg, your payment for a birth on November 19 is based on the rate as of January 19).

  12. Delaying birth? How in the hell are they doing that? And for heaven’s sake, by the time I was 32 weeks along with my first child, I was climbing stairs backwards and jumping off of curbs and doing all the fun and not-so-fun things they tell you to do to expedite getting the little parasite OUT.

    Seriously. 38 weeks was puh-lent-ee long enough, thankyouverymuch.

    Not even for $5k would I put up with late pregnancy any longer than necessary.

  13. I tender my resignation as a professional male impregnator.

    I was thinking more along the lines of showing up at the local city hall to claim your bonus for the 200 suspiciously Bangladeshi and Cambodian looking babies you just had.

  14. Bronwyn, I was wondering the same thing. Maybe they were those freak women you hear about who love every minute of pregnancy or something. Childbirth wasn’t bad at all compared to the misery of the third trimester.

  15. I was thinking more along the lines of showing up at the local city hall to claim your bonus for the 200 suspiciously Bangladeshi and Cambodian looking babies you just had.

    Hey, my time as a U.N. peacekeeper has its perks.

  16. Agreed, Leah. That endorphin high right after delivery made it all seem so… blissful. There is no such respite in the third trimester.

    I’m pregnant with our second and (yes I’m sick) ready to go for our third after a respectable period. But I am definitely not one of those “Oh, pregnancy is such a miracle! So blissful and beautiful!” types. Bullshit. It’s your body gone absofrickenlutely haywire and is double plus ungood unfun!

    Nope. I can say in confidence there is no price you could offer to get me to cross my legs after 32 weeks. At that point, I just want my body back!

  17. Russ R
    or in your case your entire lifetime..

  18. Wouldn’t the simple solution be to backdate the payment schedule say, 10 months or so?

    Oh, just what we need. Adjustable-rate pregnancies.

  19. I am also confused about how a woman would go about keeping a baby in for too long. Mine came in the 24 hour window we were trying to avoid (husband was taking the bar exam, I would have preferred him to be there, but ah well). If I had known there was some mysterious way to keep a baby in until I decided it was the right time, I would have done it. But aside from possibly refusing a medically necessary induction or c-section, I don’t get what choice the women have in this.

  20. Maybe they suspend themselves by the ankles?

  21. By that point in pregnancy, aren’t most women lacking in ankles from which to suspend themselves?

    Stupid third trimester water retention.

  22. So I’ve got a question that maybe someone who’s more informed on the economics of population can answer. Some places like China or Hong Kong are paying people not to have children, while places like the US and Australia are paying people to have children.

    What is the right amount of reproduction for a population?

  23. In Australia, they pay women to have babies.

    In America too, unless I’m misinterpreting the tax code. OK, more accurately, they give women a rebate on the critters. And come this May, when the stimulus checks go out, even more for each cuddly varmint or creepy, dependent teen.

  24. No ankles… right, yes. How could I forget the cankle problem?

    Well, back to the drawing board.

  25. What is the right amount of reproduction for a population?

    Depends on the population. Smart, beautiful, redhead or blonde females, about 5.0 per woman.

    Big, ugly, stupid violent guys? About .05 per woman.

  26. Gee, if only there were a way for people to move from the countries with too many people to those with too few…

  27. Zeb, they’d have to get over the fence first. That ain’t easy.

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