Family Matters No. 63 - December 2002

Opinion/Comment

Fertility rates, women in the workforce, and economic health
Peter McDonald, Catherine Hakim and Keri Phillips

Abstract

This article is an edited version of Australian Broadcasting Commission's The Europeans program which was aired on radio in September 2002. The presenter of the program spoke with Peter McDonald, a demographer from the Australian National University and Catherine Hakim, a sociologist at the London School of Economics, and looked at the connection between fertility rates, women in the workforce and economic health. McDonald fears that countries with a low fertility rate, where couples are effectively having only one child, will face a desperate shortage of workers in 30 or 40 years' time. Hakim believes that paid maternity leave and good quality child care are not what most women really want. She argues that what most women want is for governments to pay them to stay at home, especially when their children are very young.

This article is an edited version of Australian Broadcasting Commission's The Europeans program which was aired on radio in September 2002. The presenter of the program spoke with Peter McDonald, a demographer from the Australian National University and Catherine Hakim, a sociologist at the London School of Economics, and looked at the connection between fertility rates, women in the workforce and economic health. McDonald fears that countries with a low fertility rate, where couples are effectively having only one child, will face a desperate shortage of workers in 30 or 40 years' time. Hakim believes that paid maternity leave and good quality child care are not what most women really want. She argues that what most women want is for governments to pay them to stay at home, especially when their children are very young.

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