Population demographic meltdown vs 12month maternity leave + fully funded ECE


Sociologist Paul Spoonley explains why New Zealand’s demography is becoming a ‘huge fiscal challenge’

Concerns are growing New Zealand’s ageing population and low fertility rates could cause major economic headaches in the years ahead.   

New Zealand has an ageing population, declining fertility rates and population growth that is only propped up by immigration.  

It’s not just New Zealand where there are concerns there aren’t enough babies being born to replace the existing population. A study released last year showed by the end of the century, the United Nations predicts 23 countries will see their populations halved.  

It has governments around the world scrambling to engineer a baby boom. Hungary implemented a policy in 2019 that if people had four or more babies, they would pay no income tax for life.   

Just last year, National Party leader Christopher Luxon joked Kiwis, if they wish, should “go out there and have more babies”.   

While he was joking, he may have a point.  

At the centre of the Gender Pay Gap is the biological reality women carry the babies. If we as a liberal progressive society want to ensure everyone has equal agency, then surely recognising biological reality is a starting point?

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The first 12months should be maternity leave – or paternity leave, either one, but one of the parents should be paid to stay home with the infant for its first year of life. Who else do you want to look after an infant other than the parent?

Meanwhile, ECE should be nationalised and made completely free for 2 year olds to 5 year olds while all after school care should be free.

Childcare costs fall unevenly and unfairly on women, so why not eliminate those costs altogether?

Playing the Gender Pay Gap Game even when implemented, doesn’t lead to the outcomes desired.  

If women having babies is stunting their pay careers, then subside the cost of having that kid with 12months maternity/paternity leave, Nationalise ECE and free after school care.

Also implement a 4 day working week for all state employees so that people’s quality of life is lifted rather than just wage growth.

The promise of Democracy is you can look in your kids face and know they will have a netter deal of it than you.

Allowing a parent to stay home with their kid for a year,  provide free early education care and free after school care would do more to live up to that promise than anything else.

All we need to do to fund this type of universal upgrade of the social infrastructure is tax the rich!

Nationals 3 biggest donors (Hart, Mowbray and Bolton) have a combined net worth of 15 billion!

The Bottom 50% of NZ has 23 billion.

The top 5% of NZers own roughly 50% of NZs wealth, while the bottom 50% of NZers own a miserable 5%!

IRD proved NZ Capitalism is rigged for the rich and Bernard Hickey calculates that if we had a basic capital gains tax in place over the last decade, we would have earned $200billion in tax revenue.

$200billion would have ensured our public infrastructure wouldn’t be in such an underfunded ruin right now!

You want to lift our population?

Subsidise the cost of raising the kids so parents can have the agency of re-entering the workforce without the enormous cost of day care!




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  1. In the 1950s & 60s (when I was born) it was possible for a working man to buy a house, support a wife & provide for children (yes contraception made a big difference as well). Those days are long gone & not everything was perfect then however expecting females to be a mother along with a joint income provider for most working couples is a big ask & it’s not surprising that the birth rate is decreasing. There is also the world outlook for children today is substantially different from 70 years ago when opportunities seemed to be endless.

    • That was possible because of the manner in which the Awards System and the Arbitration Court (the I.C. & A. Act) recognised the precedent set by the Harvester Case. Justice Higgins ruled that “fair and reasonable” wages for an unskilled worker must allow “a human being in a civilised community” to support a wife and three children, living in “frugal comfort”.

      The universal family benefit, which encouraged the household formation and larger family units, lasted from 1946 until the mid-1980s. These pro-family policies were further fortified by the abolition of unemployment, homelessness and overcrowded homes (Full Employment Policy, slum clearance, mass construction of state housing).

      Given that the local economy is particularly affected by underpopulation, reversing the abolition of these policies should be a minimum, immediate demand of the labour movement.

  2. It’s so obvious why the birth rate has plummeted in western countries-the effects of neoliberalism. Young people aren’t having babies because they can’t afford it and neoliberalism has stripped them of all the post-war (social democratic) policies that were designed to support and encourage population growth- like fixed, low interest, ‘State Advances Corp’ loans to buy first homes, decent wages to support single income families, free schooling including tertiary education etc. “The Greedies” as Muldoon would say, changed all that, and after almost 40 years of Neoliberalism, there is no future for our children in NZ (hence the exodus to Australia and beyond) and we have been relying on immigration to fill the gap, prop up the real estate industry, and create the infrastructure nightmare that we face. Never mind climate change. I recall Margaret Thatcher saying”who is society, there is no such thing” – well, we are living the result of her vision and what a mess it is.

  3. An absolute no-brainer. However, extending this to paternity leave is just silly. Certainly some limited degree of paternity leave paid for by the state is reasonable to ensure that fathers can support mothers in the most stressful periods of child development, but it shouldn’t be treated like paternity leave and it certainly shouldn’t be something that would detract from appropriate maternity leave.

  4. Fuck demographics isolated from social reality.
    This white supremacist replacement fear is the ingrained privilege of the West ruling classes used to ruling the world. They will fight to defend their greed over the dead bodies of humanity.
    All humanity needs is a socialist revolution to kicks out the 1% and their mercenaries and open the borders to economic refugees and nature’s balance is restored.
    This is natural justice for the West’s 500 years of the Capitalocene that screws nature for private profit and bugger the consequences of global warming, genocide and permanent war.
    Its Zionist Israel X 100 surrounded and drowned by the rise of humanity fighting for its survival.
    Nature and humanity are already united in this fight. The victory will be human survival restored fully to nature and the fulfillment of our evolution on this planet.

  5. The birthrate started to fall when people got more prosperous and didn’t need lots of kids to look after them in their old age, and of course when women got control over their reproductive health. It may well be that neoliberalism has had some influence on this, but there are countries where neoliberalism hasn’t taken quite so much of a hold and yet the birthrate has still fallen considerably – like Japan.
    And there are two major ways to cope with a lack of young people – businesses could get more efficient and pay fewer people but at higher wages because they are more skilled. Or what governments have been doing in New Zealand for the last forty years or so import lots of cheap labour. You know, those Filipino farmworkers who are “great little workers”, because of course one phone call and they have to fuckoff back to the Philippines. New Zealand businesses prefer the latter, because they are stingy enough to not want to pay for training, and have been for a long time now. The government does it all for them, as well as importing workers to keep wages down.

  6. FFS! How can we sustain a bigger population when we not surviving infrastructure deficiency as it is. By infrastructure I mean, social, financial and physical. Since the start of the new working year the traffic on our roads seems to have increased by a third, our supermarket aisles are a struggle to get down and unemployment has increased. Worst of all this government has created an environment where things are going to get a hell of a lot worse.
    Health workers have finally after decades are finally receiving incomes close to Australia and what do National do? Freeze new employment in health as part of cost savings. We are now back to the days of the 2013 government that froze incomes whilst telling DHB CEOs to do more with less all the while ramping up immigration.
    Our ED’S are overflowing, roads and supermarkets. Our water infrastructure can’t cope and rather than finding ways to get traffic off the roads, simple Simeon has canned cycleways and bus lanes in favour of, guess what, more roads and greater roads.
    So we are back to square one where a Labour government will be required to clean up the mess left behind.

    • A big yes to your comment, penny wise & pound foolish they used to say however I can’t see any way to use wise & this new government in a complimentary way now so even that saying is redundant.

  7. Falling population is great news.
    The planet is overpopulated and this the core reason for energy, resource, environmental and ultimately economic stress.

    Infinite growth on a finite planet has only one outcome: eventual and total systems collapse.

    Our challenge is not falling population but the fundamental stupidity of how we run our global society, the manage the environment and distribute the planet’s bounty.

    I welcome a falling population, now let us restructure our systems to deal with it.

  8. I’m sick of this bullshit “aging population” rhetoric. The fact that NZers have largely chosen to have a lower than replacement population is maybe because we don’t want an over-populated country. The other thing is that if taken to the extreme, we would need to continually keep breeding exponentially so a younger generation can keep funding an older generation. This is obviously not sustainable. We need to come to terms with the fact that we must have a declining population, to not do so will mean we loose everything that we grew up enjoying and what made NZ NZ and NZers NZers.


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