Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Something Tells Me He's an Economist By Training

No, I have not had the baby yet. But tomorrow is the due date, and so far in my life giving birth is the only thing I have ever done exactly on time. So, we'll see. But as of today, there is a whole lot of nothing going on.

So to divert you while you wait, this story about how a Japanese official referred to women as "birth machines." Off to sensitivity training, you go!

More interesting is the Japanese birth rate problem that led him to exhort women to do their best to have more children. When I went to Asia on a Jefferson Fellowship a few years ago, we had an academic give us a fascinating talk about Japanese demographics, and she explained the whole low birth rate. Women are strongly pressured to stay home until the kids are in kindergarten, and after that they are not very welcome back in the workforce. Gee, what would make you not want to have babies?

Which makes me wonder if our own shrinking young population, once the Baby Boomers start croaking, will make US leaders exhort us to do our best to have more babies, or whether it might actually, finally change the policies that discourage people from having kids. Wouldn't it be nice if politicians -- and the electorate -- actually had the foresight to figure out that paid maternity leave and more part-time work with benefits would do more than a tax credit for the birth rate? We shall see.

No, I have not gone into labor while typing this.


Kori said...

Okay, now are you in labor?

I was just talking to a friend about the topic of part-time work, better parental leave, better work-life balance policies, etc. I have trouble understanding why America is choosing to lose out on a fantastically skilled and knowledgeable workforce because it still believes that work should be measured in how much instead of how well. I mean, if I can get a job done in 30 hours, why am I given raises and promotions for working 60? The truth is, until we figure the whole balance thing out, even if our maternity policies improve, families will still be in trouble---if one parent is working outside the home and having to clock in overtime all the time, everyone suffers.

The population dip may just trigger some more of this talk, you're right. Very interesting.

Now, are you in labor yet?


Bert said...

I'm now betting on a due date baby. I was thinking about it last night when I hadn't heard from you. Due date all the way!

P.S. You should be in charge of politics.

Notta Wallflower said...

Dammit, I was hoping it would be today. It's a good thing I'm not a betting woman. :-P You must be counting the minutes. If you have her on Sunday, she'll share my bd. :-)

ioio said...

Sending you good vibes that you have baby Filbertine with the Midwife you like...

Tomorrow's high is supposed to be 27, so maybe the "Chicago warmth" will shock her out of there.