National pro-natalist policies aim to increase the number of babies born in a country. France has had pro-natalist policies in place since 1939.
The first political policy aimed at increasing the number of births in France was the Code de la Famille, passed in 1939. It banned the sale of contraceptives, provided subsidized holidays and offered cash incentives to mothers to stay at home with their children.
France needs pro-natalist policies today because it has an aging population, which will cause problems in future. Encouraging more births now will increase the number of people of working age in the future, whose wages will support the economy.
As of 2008, incentives include up to 40 weeks of nearly full-pay maternity leave for mothers having a third child, preferential treatment in the allocation of government housing, heavily subsidized childcare and tax benefits until a family’s youngest child reaches the age of 18.
Although it is very difficult to isolate and measure the effects of any specific policy, France’s fertility rate was the second highest in Europe in 2006 at 1.9 children per woman. These figures suggest that the country’s pro-natalist policies may be having some effect.