Should we pay couples not to have kids?

india controlBirth control is getting creative in India – from increasing late night tv (yes to take couples’ minds off procreating) to encouraging women not to marry until they are 30 (when a women’s fertility begins to drop). Whilst these initiatives might not seem very convincing, the Indian government’s latest idea could be a little more tempting. Money. Cash incentives are proving popular in the state of Maharastra where putting off having a child for two years after marriage gets many, especially the rural poor, the equivalent of a decent salary.

Neighbouring China is promoting a baby boom to counter act an ageing population whilst India is trying to draw in the reigns. Here in the UK Theresa Winters is on her 14th pregnancy and her newborn baby (like the others) is likely to be taken into care. At the moment, the state is paying for the well being of her children. Would paying her directly encourage her to stop having babies?

With India set to topple China as the world’s most populous nation, is  cash the best way to control the world’s population?

51 Responses to “Should we pay couples not to have kids?”

  1. 1 Ramesh, India
    August 3, 2009 at 10:51

    Isn’t it a stupid idea to make women not to marry until 30? Why can’t indian government encourage women to have kids only after 30, no matter whether they are married at 18 or 30?

  2. 2 Helen
    August 3, 2009 at 11:13

    I think it is a good idea.I don’t know what the safety-net for poverty is in India ,but in America the amount of money a family receives goes up with each child.The system has had some changes since then(the ’70’s ),but people used to have an unreasonable amount of children because it made for more money every month.people do desrerate things in desperate situations.Money can be a motivator and with India’s huge population I’d give it a try.

  3. August 3, 2009 at 11:23

    UkaH, from Nigeria.
    Child bearing is not an issue for the state to decide. In my view, it is the exclusive right of the couples to choose when or how many kids they sholud have.
    Marriage is a sacred union, government sholud stay out of it.
    They should rechannel their energy towards better policy response on welfare of the citizens.

    • 4 Maxine
      August 6, 2009 at 07:13

      Unfortunately UkaH the world has too many people. It is ignorance that presumes that couples can have as many children as they like. The world is running out of water and food, the seas around many countries are fished out for instance. Yes, child – bearing is an issue for states to decide. It is our responsibility to get our facts right and not be emotional about important things. Pay couples not to have them if that is what it takes.

  4. 5 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 3, 2009 at 12:21

    Dumb idea that is unsustenable. What India needs to do is develop a better education system that targets the poor. Not sex education but a general education for the young and for adults especially young girls and women.

    A decent education I have observed gives knowledge that can lead to people making better choices about their future.

    • 6 Anna Polianitchevskaia
      August 7, 2009 at 12:48

      Decent education as a panacea for overpopulation? The idea is reasonable though it does not take into account a time factor. Education takes time.So all children which happen to be born in the meanwhile will hardly be able to start”making better choices about their future”.Probably government might stay out of the sacred union of marriage.What the government has no right to do is to ignore realistic threats to the welfare of the citizens. This is not child bearing the state is concerned with-these are issues of poverty,natural resources depletion,social conflicts which are in question. The state does not threaten the lives of those children which have not been born yet-it protects those children who live now.

  5. 7 VictorK
    August 3, 2009 at 12:35

    The question misses the big picture and the real issue, which is global.

    Consider the population (in millions) of the following countries, in 2007 and as projected in 2050:

    2007: Afghanistan (27m); Canada (33m); DR Congo (63m); France (62m); Japan (128m); Somalia (9m).

    2050: Afghanistan (79m); Canada (42m); DR Congo (187m); France (68m); Japan (103m); Somalia (21m).

    The real question is should we be encouraging some countries (the ones that make a worthwhile contribution to civilisation & human existence) to have more children, while encouraging others to curb their rates of population growth?

    Full data at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2006/WPP2006_Highlights_rev.pdf

    • 8 Tom K in Mpls
      August 3, 2009 at 16:42

      A better view would be, when people have nothing else to do (work, entertainment, eat) they reproduce. It’s good argument for developing a viable broad based economy. But first they need a stable society/government.

    • 9 Anna Polianitchevskaia
      August 7, 2009 at 13:00

      This is not a “real question”-this would be a potential disaster for civilization and human existance in general.Who is supposed to decide which countries make a “worthwhile” contribution to human development and which do not? What should be considered a “worthwhile” contribution and how should it be measured? Discrimination attempts is a good thing to remember about while formulating “real questions”.

  6. 10 Bel
    August 3, 2009 at 12:37

    That’s a great idea together with DECREASING the amount of child benefit for each child in countries it does apply (100% for the first, 70% for the second etc). As Helen pointed out some couples see children as a source of income only – what sort of morals are these kids learning? Do the money really goes towards their upbringing or it funds the parents bad habits? Giving people incentives not to have any, or more children they could comfortably afford to raise, is brilliant!

  7. August 3, 2009 at 12:43

    No! We should not pay couples not to have kids?

    What must be done is the value of human worth be respected. A human being must be given their worth. Economics would flourish if the thieves that dominate it were stopped.

    The capitalist system is not in it’s entirety unjust. The criminals that cultivate human beings to suck out the worthiness of their life.if they were stopped we would all be able to afford the very wants of our needs.

    Fattened parasites have dominated civilization to use that word civilization loosely for the populous of each nation are prey to those that dominate i\’s currency, ownership and their freedom to use it.

    Too many poor? Yes indeed, it is high time that the poor no long be poor. The thieves and bruiser of the minds of the people must be stopped.

  8. 12 Rob (UK)
    August 3, 2009 at 13:06

    The best way to prevent women having kids until they’re older is to give them a place in the job market. Anything else, including cash payments, is cheating women out of a chance at equality.

  9. 13 Jennifer
    August 3, 2009 at 13:57

    What value do you place on a human life?

    NO. You could not pay me a million…..

    Can’t people just leave things alone? If you mess with the number of births isn’t it possible to create an imbalance?

    Next, it’ll be brown hair/blue eyes/blonde hair/brown eyes designer babies

  10. 14 Joel
    August 3, 2009 at 14:19

    RE: Theresa Winters

    Pay her, yes – but only after she agrees to a have her tubes tied.

  11. 15 Hardik
    August 3, 2009 at 14:28

    Actually,this is a very heavy question. We can’t just do that with money because it will be like paying money for a child that is yet to be born.Instead, government should try to educate people which may not be a right choice in a short term basis but in short term it more preferable and THE right choice.

  12. 16 Tom K in Mpls
    August 3, 2009 at 14:46

    Tax laws would be the best way to do it. But as a general concept, it’s worth a try. My crystal ball comes up blank on this one, but many respond better to money than common sense.

    Also by applying Darwin’s theory, those most desirable at that age would be the ones to reproduce the most. This should increase our life span, improve our health through a later age, and extend the child bearing age. Some interesting secondary results if you ask me.

  13. 17 Jennifer
    August 3, 2009 at 15:06

    @ Rob

    I agree with you, but not just for girls or just jobs. Give all kids a sense of self, hobbies, goals, and motivation to achieve them and they will do that. Will it prevent all unplanned pregnancy or idiots from having kids? No, but it would go along way in delaying sexual activity.

    What are statistics for women who are educated? Isn’t it true that they wait to get married,put off having children until later in life, and thus have fewer children?

  14. 18 patti in cape coral
    August 3, 2009 at 15:10

    I don’t know if this is a good idea or not, sometimes in the process of solving one problem, you create another, like China now wanting people to have more children because they didn’t for see the problem for the aging population. I just don’t know.

  15. 19 Anonymous Ex-pat
    August 3, 2009 at 15:43

    I don’t think it will work. In many countries, western or eastern, it is still unacceptable to mention the exact number of children that you want, or even to say “I do not want children.” This offends people and they think you are putting up limitations on yourself.

  16. 20 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 3, 2009 at 16:10

    @patti in cape coral

    My thoughts exactly PATTI. Some problems seem as if they don’t have a solution and trying to solve them creates more problems that we didn’t forsee.

  17. 21 KC in Uk
    August 3, 2009 at 18:28

    Children never ask to be born. Paying people to not have children won’t solve the problem. The problem is the human psyche which says I want to spread my genes without regard for the larger picture of society.

  18. 22 LATIF Lasisi
    August 3, 2009 at 18:53

    Well i think it’s a good idea, but let’s be realistic paying people not to have children is a wasting of time it won’t work. People will collect the money and still be having children. What we need is a changing of mentality right from primary school. So the only solution is to educate them on the importance of child birth control.

  19. 23 tipsylife
    August 3, 2009 at 19:18

    Yes only for those who live in socialist states that are rich enough and the parents like the idea. Did you know that there is no pure democracy now that socialism is creeping everywhere despite the nay sayers? In most countries,it is your own risk or benefit. The state can not be trusted because it might promise and later refuse to be accountable. What can you do?

    Sounds like the idea of paying for expensive degrees and finding no work in the end. The family should only go for the number of children that are managable when all else fails.

  20. 24 T
    August 3, 2009 at 20:01

    How weird is this? First, we want to pay illegal iimigrants to leave the country. Then, pay couples not to have kids. And then, sue our university for not guranteeing us a job. What’s next, WHYS?

  21. 25 Venessa
    August 3, 2009 at 20:21

    How about people paying to have the children instead of paying people not to. Families get very large tax credits for every child they have. Reduce that.

    • 26 James Ian
      August 6, 2009 at 08:00

      I’m with you Venessa

      In fact I think the more kids you have the more you should be taxed. I think people with more then two kids should stop getting tax breaks and should have to start paying more. I mean they are the ones using more of the public services.
      The only way they should get any break is if they do not use any public resorces, like if they don’t use public schools, or any other publicly funded service. They they should still get a tax break. I mean just to be fair.

  22. 27 Bert
    August 3, 2009 at 21:19

    I don’t know how the planet can be kept from egregious overpopulation WITHOUT having to deal with an eventual “aging population” issue. I mean, mathematically, how is it possible?

    Assume even no government intervention. Just an increase in the standard of living will reduce the birth rate. By definition, then, there will be a transitional period in which the population of older people will icrease, compared with the younger ones. There is no alternative, so let’s just not be surprised by the phenomenon!

  23. August 4, 2009 at 07:32

    Yes try it by all means. Better than just standing around polishing the handrails as our Titanic is sinking. I’d like all the naysayers to come up with actual fiscal arguments instead of vacant moral platitudes. I agree that in the long run we’re probably all dead, but if we can make it more tolerable in the mean time, what’s the harm? We might even stumble onto a workable “pleasant” solution instead of just staggering further along the fruit-fly bell curve of population boom and bust.

  24. 29 Jennifer
    August 4, 2009 at 16:56

    Re: How about people paying to have the children instead of paying people not to. Families get very large tax credits for every child they have. Reduce that.

    This is an excellent idea!

  25. 30 Tan Boon Tee
    August 5, 2009 at 04:05

    Poor couples can ill afford entertainments outside their homes. For most of them, having sex is free and enjoyable. It is not a question of whether they should be paid not to have children, but a question of how to educate them to avoid having children.

    The government must shoulder the responsibility of providing the poor with free and compulsory education right up to fifteen years old, boys and girls alike.

    • 31 James Ian
      August 6, 2009 at 08:10

      Sounds like we need to keep it from seeming so “free and enjoyable” by taxing them more heavily for each child they have. As it is it is profitable for the poor to have larg familys, the more kids they have the more public assistance they get.
      We need to change that way of thinking and the only way to do that is stop all the hand outs and rewarding this reckless behavior.

      • 32 Tom K in Mpls
        August 6, 2009 at 14:29

        James, this used to be true in the US. I get a chuckle that it was a Democrat, Bill Clinton, of the ‘social program’ party that successfully pushed to stop this. To expand my tax idea, there should be a fixed tax break for married parents with at least one child at home, but they should also be charged for having more than two IMO.

      • 33 patti in cape coral
        August 6, 2009 at 19:28

        I don’t think having children is free and enjoyable, even with the child tax credit. Well, when they are not driving you crazy, it is enjoyable having children. Sex, however, is both free and enjoyable (for most of us, hopefully).

  26. 34 Dennis Junior
    August 5, 2009 at 18:34

    It sounds like a very simple in theory and, but in reality; that chance of it ever succeeding is not that good…

    ~Dennis Junior~

  27. 35 James Ian
    August 6, 2009 at 08:04

    “In Malthus enormously influential book An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), he imparted a tone of gloom to classical economics, arguing that hopes for prosperity were fated to founder on the rock of excessive population growth. Food, Malthus believed, would increase in arithmetic ratio (2-4-6-8-10 and so on), but population tended to double in each generation (2-4-8-16-32 and so on) unless that doubling was checked either by nature or human prudence. According to Malthus, nature’s check was “positive”: “The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.” The shapes it took included war, epidemics, pestilence and plague, human vices, and famine, all combining to level the world’s population with the world’s food supply.
    The only escape from population pressure and the horrors of the positive check was in voluntary limitation of population, not by contraception, rejected on religious grounds by Malthus, but by late marriage and, consequently, smaller families.

  28. 36 clarence mcmullen
    August 6, 2009 at 14:52

    The captialist system takes cares of population growth. It promotes consumerism to promote its mass production goods. But as a society becomes a consumer society people begin to prefer things rather than children. Thus, the Indian middle class generally have only two children and a car, TV and vacations. This is the reason that in Western societies, the population growth is negetive and they depend on immigration to sustain their economy. The time is not far when people will have to be paid to have children or they would be mass produced by this greed driven and self centered culture.

  29. 37 Steve/Oregon
    August 6, 2009 at 17:15


  30. 38 dchatur
    August 6, 2009 at 17:30

    In India, the predominant factor behind the ever-increasing birth rates is the possibility of a better future for the family. This is basically the case where the parents want a baby boy as their child, because they presume that a boy will earn the family a better living than the girl. So, they keep trying. And if a girl is born, they consider her to be a burden on their family. These fundamental and fallacious assumptions drive the procreational tendencies of the Indian population, especially the rural Indians, where basic amenities like healthcare, education are far from accessible.

    Even if the government takes up the initiative to pay people to abstain from giving birth, this initiative will hardly be implemented and the ends it eants to achieve will be a distant impossibility! The reasons are corruption, apathy and an lackadaisical attitude.

    Family planning measures have failed considerably in India, when such a measure would have actually helped Indians if they were implemented in a better manner with better planning.

  31. August 6, 2009 at 18:42

    It is not a good idea at all to pay people not to have children.
    What people require is free and unhindered access to contraception and education.
    We read that upto 50 million people in India are illiterate. Making sure that everybody receives some form of basic education to be able to comprehend whatever is taught in MCH/FP clinics will go a long way in helping to reduce population growth.
    In Kenya, the harsh economic situation has made it almost impossible for the middle class to have more than 4 children.
    The peasants in rural villages do have high fertility rate but so to the high infant mortality.
    LIteracy in Kenya is quite high and this has in a way assisted in checking population growth.

  32. 40 Forthebetter
    August 7, 2009 at 00:38

    Yes…….we should do that here in America, also. Actually, we should just pay the stupid people to not be breeders. There should be some kind of test you should have to take to be able to reproduce. It seems that the most ignorant people have the most children….5….6….7…..14….. and the most intelligent people have the least….1…..maybe 2.

    • 41 Tom K in Mpls
      August 7, 2009 at 16:15

      This is the intelligent argument for an incentive based eugenics program. Face it, the topic is eugenics. Not forced, but guided. The trouble with your idea Forthebetter, is how do politicians looking for re-election pass a law that insults the growing stupid majority?

      As a thought, if you keep advertising that smart and successful people have fewer kids, maybe non religious poor will see it as a sign of status and have fewer kids. Well, maybe.

      • 42 James Ian
        August 8, 2009 at 06:22

        @ Forthebetter and Tom K

        I like both you comments.

        Forthebetter, I like your Idea. I have thought the same thing for years. I would most likely not be able to have kids, LOL, but I still like the idea. I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t need to have offspring. I do have a five year old daughter that is way smarter at five then I ever was but, I credit that to her mother. LOL

        Tom, your reasoning is sound, thoughtful and funny, true, but very funny.

  33. 43 Pierre Alexis
    August 7, 2009 at 07:23

    Having a child is an act of social and environmental irresponsibility. The earth is overpopulated, resources are getting scarce and the environment is almost irreparably damaged. Further procreation by the human species will only lead to more pollution, wars, diseases and global warming. Any initiative that decreases the number of births shoud be commended.
    Humans are the vermin of this planet!

    • 44 James Ian
      August 8, 2009 at 06:25

      I don’t know that I would go as far as to say “The Vermin of the earth” but I do agree, our breading habbits are likened to rats or rabbits. LOL

  34. August 8, 2009 at 07:00

    Population is popping out right?! You can’t reduce it so you surely need to control it. And, this can be a good way. So, why not? Specially in countries like India!

  35. 47 Jim Newman
    August 9, 2009 at 01:29

    Hello again
    I agree with Pierre Alexis that for the survival of human beings it is imperitive that we decrease the human population drastically.
    Nature will survive with or without humans.

  36. 48 Joya Ghose
    August 10, 2009 at 16:34

    We should stop giving tax breaks to people who have more than one child, and put a cap on child benefits, stopping after the first two.
    The world is vastly over-populated, and there is no problem we face that wouldn’t be better for there being fewer people.
    We should also stop spending so much money on improving fertility, and use those funds to look after the people that are here already.

  37. 49 scmehta
    August 11, 2009 at 06:54

    What’ll you do if the couples add more kids, after they are paid for not having any more? Penalize’em? This ill-conceived plan will not work. It’ll be better to declare a scheme of cash-rewards for those who volunteer and commit in writing and then keep their commitment for the stipulated or prefixed time-period.

  38. 50 NSC London
    August 12, 2009 at 17:14

    In theory what Scmehta suggests is great, but I think the problem is that the segment of the populace that we want to discourage from breeding lack the impulse control or ability to make rational decisions that would enable them to take advantage of the incentives.

    Have you spent much time in a London council estate lately? These people are like fruit flies. They do nothing but breed and feed off the scraps left by mainsteam society. The will to succeed needed to make your program work just isn’t there.

  39. 51 Thomas Robertson
    March 2, 2010 at 17:37

    This is one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard.

    This policy could help with two major problems:
    1) overpopulation – which is at this point mostly occurring in the least developed countries (wealth nations have a reproduction rate close to the replacement rate, whereas poor nations are far beyond the replacement rate)
    2) poverty – by providing money directly to poor women (who have been shown to wisely invest it in their existing children and communities unlike men who are more likely to squander it) we reach some of the most desperate citizens of the world and infuse them and their communities with much needed wealth. This could allow them to send the small number of children they do have to school and invest their earnings into growing a business.

    Rather than get into moralistic arguments, let’s try out this policy in some places that it obviously makes sense:
    Sub-saharan africa

    Also, I wanted to point out that the policy need not be “never have a child”, rather, a woman in the program could be allowed one child in her twenties then one child in her thirties, or whatever made sense. More than that and aid is reduced or eliminated.

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