A strong family beneficial to the economy: study

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  • October 19, 2011

Citizens, business, government and civil society would do well to strengthen the family because the wealth of nations and the economy is tied to the fortunes of the family, says a new international report.

The bigger your family, the better for the economy, according to the Sustainable Demographic Dividend, co-sponsored by the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada. The report examines the connections between marriage, family and the economy. Published by the Social Trends Institute on Oct. 3, the international report looked at 29 countries.

The first demographic dividend took place when people started having smaller families, which freed up parents to be more active in the work force and the economy, said Andrea Mrozek, manager of research and communications for the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada.

“What’s happened now is we’re needing to pay back the lack of people to support our elders as the baby boomers age… The sustainable part of the demographic dividend looks at how to reap economic benefits over the long term and that will involve having more children.”

Bigger families can help the economy in a variety of ways, said Mrozek.

“There’s the long-term proposition that we, by having more children, contribute to the work force down the road,” she said. And there’s also the fact that families spend more money than single people so they’re contributing more to the economy.

Statistics Canada says that within a decade, there will be more people over the age of 65 in Canada than under the age of 15.

“We have social benefits and health care that need to be paid for,” said Mrozek.

“We need people to pay for those things so that’s another aspect of how the economy will suffer when we have fewer people to pay for the things we’ve grown used to.”

The report tells us that we aren’t as family friendly as we can or should be, said Mrozek.

“The research shows that Canadians would like to have more children than they’re actually having and so that tells me that we aren’t making that possible. Helping families in the right ways might make it possible for families to fulfill their desires to have more children.”

Michèle Boulva, director of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, agrees whole-heartedly with the premise that “the wealth of nations depends in no small part on the health of the family.”

“Without healthy, fruitful families, societies and economies are destined to fail,” Boulva said.

The finding clearly resonates with the Church’s teaching, she said. She cites the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes which says, “The well-being of the individual person and of human and Christian society is intimately linked with the healthy condition of that community produced by marriage and family.” But Boulva said it’s important to keep in mind that simply increasing fertility is not the answer, as the report points out.

“The increase in fertility needs to be realized within the context of a nurturing and supportive environment,” she said. “In other words, within marriage.”

To read the report, see www.sustaindemographicdividend.org.

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