Chapter 8: Family Protection and Pro-Natalist Policies
Page 134 8. Family protection and pronatalist policies 1 FAMILY PROTECTION AND INCENTIVATION OF MOTHERHOOD: A HISTORICAL CONSTANT Governments have practically always regulated family life and have used the fiscal system to set incentives for certain types of behaviour, especially with respect to growth in the birth rate. There have been many societies which, at various times, were concerned to increase their population. In some cases the aim was to defend certain special characteristics that were under threat from other cultures and, in others, it was to meet the need to populate large deserted areas in countries undergoing colonization. But the most usual motivation was undoubtedly the idea that there is a direct link between the power of a nation and the number of its inhabitants. And from Roman times to the twentieth century a tradition can be detected in the history of political and economic thinking that directly links the variables of population and power. Some general characteristics can be mentioned. In all cases, there were certain group values that the authorities considered of more importance than individual values. It was also accepted that the instruments of power—laws, public office or taxation—could be used to attain the objectives set. And, of most interest to us, although it is women who give birth and care for children, most of the measures for increasing the birth rate were addressed not to women but to men. It was men who were punished by higher taxation or the withdrawal of...
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