I was startled today by my Jiangsu correspondent who revealed, quite matter-of-factly, that she had had an abortion and was recuperating with her State-mandated sick-leave. With a child already (and a husband with other siblings), only a hefty fine far beyond her means would have avoided this; and the child would not have received residency rights or access to education and health services.
Still, as I discussed before, there are more than enough misanthropes in the West who would be gratified that another population group was keeping average family size as close as possible to 3.0.
As I was digesting this admission, Channel4 News was covering the Day of Conception in Ulyanovsk region of the Russian Federation. Intended to stave-off the dwindling population (the 2010 population is roughly equal to that in 1910), prizes of cash sums and consumer goods or promises of increased child-benefits are being offered to women who give birth on 12 June (Independence Day).
With nine calendar months to go from today, the daughters of Mother Russia were encouraged to take the day off to bonk.
Gee, where to start? Even those women who conceive today – and not up to 72 hours later – have a predicted gestation period of 36 weeks, not nine calendar months.
Several years ago in Edinburgh, there was an apocryphal story that Harvey Nichols was awarding gift vouchers to any women who went into labour on their premises. As such, there was a spate of full-term women setting-up camp there; leading to the store issuing a rebuttal, and Police and NHS Lothian advising of the sheer, blithering idiocy of encouraging a birth in that environment.
I easily can imagine similar occurring in Ulyanovsk nine months hence. Frank Field’s suggestion that mothers be granted a lump sum at the birth of their child is not without its problems, but at least conception and parturition have not been turned into a game of bagatelle.
Perhaps surprisingly, another snippet in the Channel4 News was that, at ~ 9 per 1,000 head of population, South Korea had a lower birthrate than the ~ 11 per 1,000 head of population in the Russian Federation.
Of course, the South Korean population is much more homogeneous with fewer regional variations and a far greater standard of living: yet plans are afoot there to widen employment rights to expectant mothers and introduce some degree of child-benefits.
In the mid 1990s, South Korea had a skewing towards male babies as pronounced as in China or parts of India. She now has bucked this trend which remains in many East and South Asian countries.
Another demographic and economic crunch, with high life expectancy contrasted with low birth rates, is feared in Taiwan with mooted Government incentives exceeding those in South Korea. These included subsidized child-minding; the provision of which by the NHS caused a genuine moment of amazement from Michael Moore in Sicko.
I have no reason to second-guess the sentiments of my Jiangsu correspondent regarding her abortion, any more than I would those of women in my country. Yet, I retain my disdain towards Western pseudo-Malthusians who wax lyrical over such policies from the company of their multiple families.