In an otherwise inane Ross Douthat column (but I repeat myself), there's two paragraphs worth noting.
Government’s power over fertility rates is limited, but not nonexistent. America has no real family policy to speak of at the moment, and the evidence from countries like Sweden and France suggests that reducing the ever-rising cost of having kids can help fertility rates rebound. Whether this means a more family-friendly tax code, a push for more flexible work hours, or an effort to reduce the cost of college, there’s clearly room for creative policy to make some difference.This is perilously close to heresy - a conservative columnist hinting that government policies might actually improve social mobility and increase prosperity! Speaking well of Sweden and France too! Why, he might almost be suggesting that cutting Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid would be bad things. He'll be signing up with Occupy Wall Street next.
More broadly, a more secure economic foundation beneath working-class Americans would presumably help promote childbearing as well. Stable families are crucial to prosperity and mobility, but the reverse is also true, and policies that made it easier to climb the economic ladder would make it easier to raise a family as well.
Mind you, this comes in a column in which he notes with concern that Americans aren't making as many babies as they used to, after the economy cratered in 2008. He's worried that without a future supply of taxpayers, workers, and entrepreneurs sufficient to maintain American economic 'dynamism' the country will sink into decadence and decline. Of course he also notes that, politics aside, such trends
can only be reversed by the slow accumulation of individual choices, which is how all social and cultural recoveries are ultimately made.It remains to be seen how knowing that Ross Douthat wants Americans to "Get busy" will affect birth rates....