By Gudrun Schultz
PARIS, France, March 30, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Efforts to increase the birth rate in France are beginning to have an impact on the nation’s population levels. With a birth rate of 1.9, France has reached second place in the rates of European countries—only Catholic Ireland has more children being born.
In order to achieve this tenuous hold on a rising birth rate, the country has resorted to a whole gamut of financial incentives for parents, offering everything from graduated tax breaks to free family passes for museums and swimming pools.
Hugh Schofield for the BBC reported yesterday on the efforts undertaken by the French government to encourage their citizens to have more children.
A calibrated income-tax rate means the more children parents have, the less tax they pay. In addition, the government pays a monthly allowance of £180 for families with three children. That number increases when the children reach 11.
Parents get a tax deduction for housekeeping help. Parents who work in the public sector or large companies receive a range of benefits, from Christmas presents for the children to a financial bonus at the start of the school year. As well, holiday camps are subsidized.
The “large family” card gives a 30% reduction on train fare and half price for riding the metro. The Paris-family card gives families free entrance to swimming pools and other venues, as well as £150 per year for extra-curricular arts and sports.
Day care options are extensive, and private Roman Catholic church schools cost a fraction of private schools elsewhere in Europe.
The government intends to capitalize on the trend towards “larger” (two-child) families by encouraging parents to have a third child. Families will be given the option of receiving £580 per month for one year while the mother takes time off work after having a third child, or £345 per month for three years, as they can do now.
As well, the tax credit for hiring babysitters will be doubled and the “large family” card will now cover museum entrance fees.Â
See related LifeSiteNews coverage:
German Birthrate Hits Bottom: Lowest in Europe