Monday, February 11, 2008

The Lantos Demography Example

Reading through a story reporting the death of Tom Lantos, I spotted this:-

Lantos and his wife had two daughters, Annette and Katrina, who between them produced 18 grandchildren, one of whom died young. According to Lantos, his daughters were following through on a promise to produce a very large family because his and his wife's families had perished in the Holocaust.

It reminded me of a post about three weeks ago over at Jewwess. There, Rebecca, the moderator/blogger, wrote, inter alia, this:

The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (JPPPI) has released its annual report on the state of the Jewish community, with suggestions for improvement...the JPPPI’s main suggestion for improvement? More Jewish children. Seems the ancient precept of p’ru u’rvu [be fruitful and multiply] is still the best advice they can come up with. And they would have the community give middle class families financial incentives to have a third or fourth child. Can you say Big Brother?...Yet, now, maybe because of the mention of money and the desire to put this demographical theory into practice, this suggestion makes my skin crawl. There’s something about using children for a cause that’s just yucky, not to mention the increased social pressure (already so intense in the Jewish community) to have children...Don’t pay people to have children, pay to create communities and programs that will make the children they do have, of their own volition, want to stay.

I commented there that many Western countries do indeed provide/offer financial incentive to increase population. I found that in March 2006, France was boosting its birth rate with incentives for parents offering everything from graduated tax breaks to free family passes for museums and swimming pools. In June 2006, Germany’s coalition government agreed on a financial package that will compensate professional women to take a year’s leave to have children and then return to work. In Austria, in July 2006 there were beefed up benefits for families with children including monthly payouts of $547 for the youngest child until the age of 3, and additional monthly checks ranging from $132 to $192, depending on the age of offspring. Additionally, families are also eligible for a tax benefit of about $64 per month per child. Children also get free school books and don’t have to pay for public transportation to and from school. And in America, in September 2007, Hillary Clinton told told a Congressional Black Caucus forum that every child born in the country should receive a $5,000 baby bond to help pay the costs of college or buying a home.

But, as Rebecca admits, there's nothing wrong with increasing your family for ideological reasons like the Lantos family did.



Lantos' wife is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon church). Annette Lantos is a first cousin of the sisters Zsa Zsa, Eva, and Magda Gabor.

But above and here it notes:

In 1950 he married Annette, his childhood sweetheart, with whom he'd managed to reunite after the war...his and his wife's families had perished in the Holocaust.

So, she converted, I guess. Well, the daughters are Jewish anyway, as are the grandkids.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the discussion of my post.
I want to add that there's a difference between governments (or communities) assisting families that have more children and governments (or communities) explicitly offering financial rewards to families who have more children.
For example there's a difference between the the government giving a tax break for each child in a family and the government sending a a check when a woman gets pregnant.
It may just boil down to a difference in language and presentation, but it's still a significant difference.