A population professor has come up with a novel idea to cope with New Zealand’s ageing population – pay a higher pension to those who have children.
Professor Natalie Jackson, the new director of Waikato University’s Population Studies Centre, says the welfare state is “a great pyramid scheme” based on a pyramid-shaped population with only a few old people at the top supported by growing numbers of young people at the bottom.
“Just like a pyramid scheme, you have to have a continuous supply of new people coming in to support the numbers of old people,” she said yesterday.
“Once you add in falling fertility since the 1960s, the age structure tips upside down … so eventually the welfare state will have to change dramatically.”
There’s an obvious flaw here: what if I have a bunch of kids, they all go to university, get expensive qualifications and then leave the country, as most of our graduates are like to do? They’ve been a net loss on the nation’s books, but under this proposed scheme I’d get paid an extra pension for them. Maybe you’d change the system so that only resident children would contribute towards a pension – so kids wouldn’t go on their OE because Dad might have to sell the batch. Doesn’t such a system discriminate against the infertile? Would I lose the pension if my children lost their jobs and became beneficiaries, and thus no longer contributed to the state accounts? What if they die?
If a slow-witted half-wit such as myself can spot these problems then why is this idea being floated publically by a university professor running a research centre? Sounds like a good subject for a Marsden grant.