In my book —The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons for Living Happily Single and Childfree— I tell a story about the time when my (by then, married) ex tried to talk me into having a baby with him by offering me lots of money, a live-in nanny, and a new apartment. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t do it.)
It was a crazy proposition, that was attractive for a brief moment. Fortunately, I came to my senses really quickly. I didn’t want a kid (especially with a married guy) and even an appealing offer that would enhance my lifestyle couldn’t talk me into it.
So, I was amused to read an article in New York Magazine about countries around the world that are “incentivizing” their folks to have more babies. In the United States, the fertility rate is at a 90-year low, which means that Americans are not producing enough offspring to maintain the current population. This is true for many other countries, as well.
Some of these countries now have some pretty creative programs in place to convince their residents to “get busy” and make more babies. Here are a few of my favorites:
* Russia’s Ulyanovsk region has declared September 12 the Day of Conception. People are given a day off work for the express purpose of having sex. If a baby is produced, the couple becomes eligible to win cash prizes, a car, or a new refrigerator.
* A state-sponsored newspaper in Singapore printed an article with tips on how to have sex in the backseat of your car, including driving directions to “dark, secluded, romantic spots” to do it in.
* The government of Taiwan is organizing speed-dating events to encourage people to find their true love and procreate. Iran is doing something similar with its government-sanctioned matchmaking websites and dating centers.
* In South Korea, the third Wednesday of every month is Family Day. By order of the Ministry of Health, offices must close by 7pm so workers and “go home and multiply.”
But I think they’re missing the real story here, which is why is the fertility rate decreasing? Apparently, women everywhere are learning what I’ve known for a long time: kids aren’t for everyone, and I wonder if a new kitchen appliance is enough to motivate?
I’m not sure people ought to be convinced to have more babies. To me, if you have to think about it and you need motivating, maybe you don’t really want a baby. Nevertheless, I’m thinking “let’s have a little fun with this.” What innovative and fun ways might the U.S. come up with to get more people to make babies? What would it take to convince you to have a baby –either your first or another, if you’re already a mother?