Via Tyler Cowen, Russell Shorto explains where babies come from:

So there would seem to be two models for achieving higher fertility: the neosocialist Scandinavian system and the laissez-faire American one. Aassve put it to me this way: “You might say that in order to promote fertility, your society needs to be generous or flexible. The U.S. isn’t very generous, but it is flexible. Italy is not generous in terms of social services and it’s not flexible. There is also a social stigma in countries like Italy, where it is seen as less socially accepted for women with children to work. In the U.S., that is very accepted.”

I go back and forth on whether the low fertility rates in places like Italy or Japan is a real problem. Some folks predict all manner of ills stemming from the possibility of population decline, but it also seems possible that it might lead to rising standards of living and I'm not sure I've ever seen the issue given a really rigorous treatment with models and dull equations.

Photo by Flickr user Tedsblog used under a Creative Commons license

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