The Baby Bonus
is a government payment to parents of children.
The baby bonus scheme introduced by the Federal Government of Australia under John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello
in the 2002 budget was aimed at offsetting the expenses associated with rearing a child. The scheme was also introduced as a means of increasing Australia's fertility rate and to mitigate the effects of Australia's ageing population
. In the 2004 budget the bonus was raised from $3,000 effective 1 July 2004 to $4,000 payable in 2007 but indexed to inflation so that in October 2007, the amount receivable per eligible child was $4133 dollars. The bonus is paid in a lump sum to a nominated financial institution. The receivable amount from July 2008 is $5000 dollars.
Associate Professor Barry Walters wrote in the Medical Journal of Australia that the problem of environmental degradation is caused primarily by parents having too many babies. He suggests that rather than paying parents to produce babies, the government should tax parents who have babies. Professor Walters said the average annual carbon dioxide emission by an Australian individual was about 17 metric tons, including energy use. "Every newborn baby in Australia represents a potent source of greenhouse gas emissions for an average of 80 years, not simply by breathing but by the profligate consumption of resources typical of our society," he wrote. "Far from showering financial booty on new mothers and rewarding greenhouse-unfriendly behaviour, a 'baby levy' in the form of a carbon tax should apply, in line with the 'polluter pays' principle.
Sustainable Population Australia believes Australia is overpopulated and that the Baby Bonus will further harm the environment. "Increasing the population also adds to the problem of global warming. Australia has the highest per capita emissions of greenhouse gases in the world, so a rise in the birth rate increases greenhouse gas emissions and hence global warming.
Ross Guest from the Centre of Independent Studies claims that the Baby Bonus is a "dubious policy initiative." He claims that evidence of similar programs done in other countries show that most of the recipients of the Baby Bonus (88%) were already going to have the baby anyway, meaning the money is wasted. Guest also claims that the rise in total fertility rate from 1.76 to 1.85 babies per woman after the introduction of the Baby Bonus is negligible and is likely the result of random fluctuation. Assuming no immigration, the total fertility rate of 1.85 is not enough to prevent population decline.
A baby bonus was introduced in Canada following the second world war
. A family allowance scheme known as the "baby bonus" made regular monthly payments of $5 to $8 to all parents of children under 16.
In 1988, the Quebec government introduced the Allowance for Newborn Children that paid up to $8,000 to a family after the birth of a child.
A baby bonus scheme was introduced in Singapore in 2001.