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Pay to Delay
January 5, 2019
by William P. Meyers

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One nudge towards a sustainable human population

The Wonderful World of One Billion described how much better the planet and humans will be when we reach a sustainable population, estimated at one billion. Getting to the Wonderful World outlined how that might happen. The Place of America in the Wonderful World estimates what a sustainable population would be in the nation known as the United States of America.

This essay outlines a specific proposal to help get to a sustainable population in the United States. It could also be used in other nations that do not have working programs to get on a reasonably fast arc towards sustainability. It is not exclusive to other programs.

Pay To Delay would offer an annual tax credit to females between the age of 14 and 25 who delay having babies. A variant might also give a tax credit to men in this age range who do not have children.

Current tax and social services policies in the U.S. have mixed incentives for people having children. The standard deduction for income tax reporting (not the same as a credit) for dependents in 2017 was $4,050 per child. An Earned Income Credit or Child Tax Credit ($2,000 per child in 2018) was also available to low-income parents. Public schooling is free. Several food programs help relieve the financial burden on low income parents, including WIC and food stamps (SNAP).

There are currently no government rewards for not having children. For many young women not having children is its own economic reward, as children can be expensive even with government subsidies. Having children when young also often result in not achieving education and career goals, resulting in a life-long loss of income.

A more explicit reward should both reduce the overall birth rate (our main goal) and encourage females to delay childbirth until they are better situated to economically support themselves and their children. It would encourage being careful about birth control. Better supported children can be expected to have better lives themselves.

An annual tax credit for childless women could help to pay for college tuition or other life necessities.

For discussion purposes a sum of $3,000 per year when female children are typically living with parents, until turning 19, would possibly serve as a good incentive. Increasing that to $5,000 per year between the ages of 19 and 25 would help substantially with college or a career. Saved, it would be enough to make a down payment on a home in most areas of America.

New ideas, no matter how good, take time to percolate through a society and a political system. Be sure to share this idea with people, particularly those in the age group that would benefit most.

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