Practicing What She Preaches

Bloomberg News reports in this morning's WaTi on Germany's desperate efforts to get some volks to have children. Leading the campaign is one Ursula von der Leyen, herself a mother of seven, who is also a medical doctor and the German Family Minister. It seems the coming birth dearth, derided by Herr Schroeder as nonsense, is coming home as a serious problem. The debate is over what to do about it. The Leftist approach is to provide more daycare (didn't the Germans invent Kindergarten?), complaining that there are few facilities in Germany that will care for kids younger than three. The Merkel government's approach is a tax credit for child-care costs.
I always prefer a free market approach, but it seems to me either of these methods is really incentivizing work outside the home --and indeed, with fewer workers paying into social security systems, Germany's probably not eager to encourage stay-at-home-motherhood. But that introduces a catch-22. It's possible to juggle babies and career, but only if you're willing to be utterly exhausted and have no time for friendships and cultural pursuits for several years running (or completely consign your kids to a nanny)--not a state of affairs that encourages multiple births, no matter how affordable child-care is. I don't see that any number of incentives to have kids will have much effect unless people feel free to take a break from the work-force for a while when their kids are young. That's where policy-makers ought to focus their incentives & attention.