India introduces “honeymoon package”

AFP/Getty Images The Indian district of Satara in the state of Maharashtra just announced a creative new plan to control soaring birth rates: offering to pay for a second honeymoon for couples who delay the birth of their first child by two years. The “honeymoon package” is worth 5,000 rupees ($125), or around 7,500 rupees ...

AFP/Getty Images

The Indian district of Satara in the state of Maharashtra just announced a creative new plan to control soaring birth rates: offering to pay for a second honeymoon for couples who delay the birth of their first child by two years. The "honeymoon package" is worth 5,000 rupees ($125), or around 7,500 rupees ($175) if couples wait three years. It will go into effect on August 15th. Authorities expect 4,000 fewer births per year as a result of the plan.

India's population is growing at a rate of 1.7 percent per year, and is set to overtake China's by 2025. So an imaginative solution like Satara's to curb population "explosion" should be welcomed and repeated elsewhere in India, right?

AFP/Getty Images

The Indian district of Satara in the state of Maharashtra just announced a creative new plan to control soaring birth rates: offering to pay for a second honeymoon for couples who delay the birth of their first child by two years. The “honeymoon package” is worth 5,000 rupees ($125), or around 7,500 rupees ($175) if couples wait three years. It will go into effect on August 15th. Authorities expect 4,000 fewer births per year as a result of the plan.

India’s population is growing at a rate of 1.7 percent per year, and is set to overtake China’s by 2025. So an imaginative solution like Satara’s to curb population “explosion” should be welcomed and repeated elsewhere in India, right?

Actually, no—it’s incredibly short-sighted. While India’s population is still increasing, it is also rapidly aging. In a few short generations, India will face the same demographic pressures—coupled with a far lower per capita income base—as other aging societies around the world. By 2050, the median age in India will be 38.6. The country definitely won’t be as old as Japan or even the United States, but its problems will be at least as severe. Roughly 40 percent of Indians drop out of school before the age of 10, a quarter of Indian primary school age children are not in school, and only 11 percent of Indians, who are relatively affluent anyway, have pensions. “Social security” in India has traditionally meant dependence on extended families, particularly children. If these children aren’t born, or aren’t educated well enough to be able to provide for their aging parents, India’s economy will be under immense strain. So to my mind, a much better idea would be to replace the “honeymoon package” with an “education package.”

Prerna Mankad is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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