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Family incentives linked to birth rate

Swiss cantons have slowed trends in declining birth rates by improving crèche facilities and offering higher family allowances, a study has found.

Giuliano Bonoli, of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Public Administration in Lausanne, reviewed changes in the birth rate in different cantons between 1980 to 2000 in his study, published in the Journal of European Social Policy.

The cantons of Geneva, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Basel City and Zurich managed to maintain the number of births at 1980 levels or even increase numbers. All are among the cantons offering more nurseries for children and awarding comparatively higher family allowances.

Bonoli suggests that a favourable social policy for families not only helps avoid financial problems in the pensions system, but it also favours women. He cites a 2004 government report on families in which women, on average, wanted more than two children.

Between 1980 and 2000 most cantons reported falling birth rates, which Bonoli attributes to more women joining the workforce.

He found that birth rates fell faster in cantons where involvement in the agricultural sector had strongly declined, such as Geneva and Basel City.


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