This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

August 8, 2007

Baby Bonuses and Other Solutions

In 2006, the United Nations said that by the year 2025, the world's average rate of fertility will fall below the level of replacement. . . an historic occasion.

The earth's developed nations have experienced these population declines for years now. Most have responded by paying citizens with "baby bonuses". Italy pays about $5000 annually, though one village reportedly offers US$14,000 for every new toddler.

Other countries offering these windfalls include Australia, France, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, Cyprus, and Singapore. One Spanish mayor reportedly offers new mothers a pig. And in spite of having the world's highest abortion rate, Russia, too, is paying people to have babies.

But by far, the most interesting response to this challenge is in Japan. There, under pressure from the government, employers are offering everything from cell phones to substantial payments to encourage their workers to procreate.

The telecom Softbank characterizes itself as "Japan's most family-friendly company". Not only does the company encourage parents to take more time off with their children, but it allows employees to work at home when they need to as well. But the best part for family bank accounts is their policy of "baby bonuses". These range on a sliding scale from $400 for a first child to up to $40,000 for the fifth. Additionally, each baby receives a free cell phone.

Many of Japan's young people feel it's just "too expensive" to have kids. Furthermore, young women there don't want to exchange career fulfillment for motherhood. So it's not surprising that Japan's population is aging fast and actually shrinking. That's why these corporate subsidies are even perceived to be "patriotic".

Softbank is not alone in its support of their working parents. Panasonic, Canon, and Sharp also offer financial aid for working mothers. Moreover, some Japanese companies will even pay for fertility treatments.

What's ahead? As corporations around the globe comprehend that being family- supportive will have a positive effect on their bottom line, you can expect to see more financial and non-financial incentives become the norm. . . another possible competitive advantage in the war for talent.

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