State-Sponsored Baby-Making

Doomsayers used to worry about the “population bomb.” Now demographers warn that some nations aren’t procreating enough. In the U.S., the fertility rate is at a 90-year low, which means Americans are producing too few offspring to maintain the current population. Here, some of the more creative ways that countries facing a baby drought have tried to intervene.

Illustrations by Remie Geoffroi

Play a Racy Jingle
Last summer, candy-maker Mentos did its part to promote Singapore Social Development Unit’s fornication efforts, commissioning the world’s least coy rap song to mark the city-state’s Independence Day: “It’s National Night, and I want a baby, boo / I know you want it, so does the SDU.”

Offer Free Appliances
In 2007, Russia’s Ulyanovsk region declared September 12 the Day of Conception: a day off work for the express purpose of having sex, which, if it produced a baby, made couples eligible to win cash prizes, a car, or even a new refrigerator.

Teach the Finer Points of Car Sex
Singapore’s leaders have long fretted over the nation’s birthrate, which is the lowest in the world. Its state-sponsored newspapers once printed tips for backseat intercourse, including driving directions to the “darkest, most secluded and romantic spots.”

Throw Taxpayer-Funded Mixers
After a crowdsourced publicity campaign failed to boost Taiwan’s birthrate (winning slogan: “Children—our best heirloom”), its government began organizing afternoon speed-dating events in upscale hotels, joining Japan in offering state-run matchmaking sessions.

Get Into the Dating-Site Business
Iran’s two-decade-old contraceptive program—which provides free tubal ligations and vasectomies—has worked too well. Now the Islamic republic plans to open government-sanctioned matchmaking websites and dating centers in major cities.

Turn Off the Lights
In 2010, South Korea designated the third Wednesday of every month Family Day: By order of the Ministry of Health, offices would go dark at 7 p.m. so workers could go home and multiply, an effort the Korea Times described as a “desperate operation” to up the birthrate.

Entice Sperm Donations
Last year, an Australian fertility service facing a backlog of hopeful mothers waiting to conceive launched an ad campaign that encouraged gay men to donate sperm. By May, the waiting time for sperm had dropped from eighteen months to just eight weeks.

When All Else Fails, Bring in the Pros
In Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has pledged $53 billion to boost the country’s birthrate, a February 6 concert by Boyz II Men was viewed as a means to getting in the mood. The show, reported the Moscow Times, will “hopefully give Russian men some inspiration ahead of St. Valentine’s Day.”

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State-Sponsored Baby-Making