Different Policies For Each Demographic Condition
Policy implications for both conditions, sizable population growth in developing countries and below-replacement levels in developed countries, call for different approaches, Bongaarts says. Indifference is not one of them. Concern over adverse consequences of additional billions of people in the poorer countries has "provided the principal rationale for past investments in voluntary family planning and reproductive health programs that help couples avoid unwanted childbearing. This effort should be strengthened and expanded to include social investments in young people, for example, girls' education that help offset population momentum and improve the quality of individual lives."
In the developed world, the potential adverse consequences of prolonged below-replacement fertility have led to "extensive discussions but little action," with most governments reluctant to pursue explicit pronatalist policies. Numerous policy options have been proposed to encourage childbearing, Bongaarts says, but, unfortunately, there is "little useful experience to draw on in assessing potential effectiveness. In rare instances where new measures to raise fertility were successfully implemented (for example, Sweden in the late 1980s) it is difficult to disentangle the roles of the specific components in a package of measures." Options include free or subsidized childcare, reduced taxes for families with children, paid parental leaves; and subsidized housing for young couples.