Baby Bonus not the reason for increase in Australian fertility rates, research concludes

August 4, 2011, Macquarie University
Credit: Justyna Furmanczyk

A paper released by researchers has found that the Baby Bonus is not the reason for the recent increase in the Australian fertility rate over the past decade.

Professor Nick Parr, Macquarie University and Ross Guest, Griffith University have looked at the fertility trend in Australia and concluded that the impact of the Baby Bonus on the recent rise in fertility in this country has most probably been minor.

“We found that the effects of the Baby Bonus are slight, while the effects of education, income, occupation, marital status, age, and parity are significant” said Professor Parr.

The paper also discussed the effectiveness of other government attempts to increase fertility by increasing family benefits. “The Child Care Rebate will cumulatively become a more substantial benefit for working mothers. However, so far at least, we have not found conclusive evidence that this rebate has increased fertility.”

Between 2001 and 2008 Australia’s total increased from 1.73 to 1.96 This period also saw changes to family benefits, most notably the introduction of a universal, flat-rate payment at birth and increased subsidisation of childcare.

This paper contributes to the current debate over the effectiveness of financial incentives as a means of increasing the Australian population. It also questions the value of other government family policies, such as paid parental leave scheme, to encourage population growth.

“These results may provide grounds to speculate that the introduction in 2011 of a universal government-funded paid parental leave scheme will not raise fertility substantially,” said Professor Parr.

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