Working for Families, or Nazi medals?

In Nazi Germany, women were rewarded for having children. An estimated three million women ‘won’ a medal for having four or more children in 1939. Other incentives provided to women to encourage mass reproduction included marriage loans, tax allowances and health services.

In Labour-led New Zealand, women are rewarded for having children. The Working for Families scheme is “designed to help make it easier to work and raise a family” through paying extra money to those that have at least three children.

The in-work tax credit pays up to $60 a week for families with three children and up to an extra $15 a week for each additional child. The Working for Families scheme also offers an accommodation supplement and help with childcare costs.

Hitler offered his scheme to build up the Third Reich. A large population was critical to his vision of an Aryan super-state.

Arguably, Helen Clark is not as interested in an Aryan super-state. So why are she and her government so keen on giving reproduction rewards?


You may think this is an obvious answer. Few politicians don’t bribe us with our own money. But I’m not just referring to votes today. I’m also referring to votes far into the future.

The Working for Families scheme encourages those on low incomes to have additional children. Low income earners tend to vote for Labour. Therefore those that benefit most from the scheme will tend to support its continuation and vote for Labour.

Move forward a generation. Rightly or wrongly, the children that were born into the low income families will tend to find themselves in a similar income bracket. That’s not to say all people born into these lower income families will remain in that bracket, there are obvious exceptions. But typically speaking, there is some degree of intergenerational pass-through of socio-economic status.

Labour has just successfully engineered, within a generation, a sizeable increase in its support base. If this policy continues another generation you can see what will happen – exponential growth in the Labour support base.

Working for Families amounts to nothing more than breeding support in an attempt to entrench Labour’s power. It appears Hitler and Helen have more in common than a comb-over and a moustache.

Note: an obvious criticism of my theory is that those on lower incomes are less likely to vote. However, any increase in those on lower incomes will lead to a relative increase in Labour’s support, assuming (across generations) a constant proportion of lower-income earners that vote.


  • “Working for Families amounts to nothing more than breeding support in an attempt to entrench Labour’s power”

    Welcome goonix. I see you enjoy conspiracy theories. Are you sure that the purpose of the scheme was not because labour felt there was a social benefit from children that wasn’t being priced in the ‘breeding’ market place?

  • goonix

    A social benefit accruing to Labour.

  • i think it’s better to avoid comparisons to hitler …

    i am curious if you have data on the intergenerational pass-through of socio-economic status? how is economic growth over a generation taken into account in those calculations?

  • Oh boy, wait until I blog and link to this 🙂

  • “A social benefit accruing to Labour.”

    Hahaha, ok. I was thinking more along the lines of how people generally give each other a net benefit by existing, therefore as that is not priced government may want to intervene and subsidise this, such that the true ‘price’ of children represents their social value.

    Also if this was a policy that supported social engineering, why is the government trying to increase the social mobility of its citizens – wouldn’t it want people to stay poor so they ‘vote labour’. Wouldn’t this be an inherent contridication in government policy?

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  • CPW

    From memory, I don’t think that increasing birth rates was given as a rationale for WFF. Although some aspects of the scheme increased work incentives, the stated rationale was just income redistribution (although the scheme was also quite poorly targeted in that regard, the majority of the money did not go to families in poverty).

    I’ve heard that fiscal incentives usually perform very poorly at raising birth rates. I’ve also heard that, in the US at least, income isn’t that great a predictor of voting patterns once you throw in some controls.

    Also, if children are a normal good, then rich families should be systematically over-breeding and driving the system in the other direction.

    I think there is some truth to the idea that larger welfare states breed support for larger welfare states (pardon the pun), although I doubt this is the mechanism.

  • goonix

    aaron – If people take offence to the comparison then that’s too bad – lighten up. The inter-generational pass-through was conjecture (hence it’s italicisation) and is something I will look into further. Economic growth is irrelevant as in any generation there are those deemed ‘poor’ due to the ridiculous notion of measuring poverty on a relative scale.

    Matt – Again, being ‘poor’ is always relative.

    CPW – since when was what the government gives as a rationale for a policy ever taken seriously? lol.

  • goonix

    Edit: that should read ‘its’ – please excuse semi-drunk typing.

  • CPW

    Well given that weren’t exactly hiding the fact that policy was basically just a huge handout for swing middle-class voters right before a tightly contested election (remember the commercials?), doesn’t it seem like a bit of a stretch to suggest that the super-secret policy agenda was to raise the vote share of the labour party 18 years hence? I’m certain if they had any reason to expect the policy to increase birth rates they’d have been happy to trumpet it, people are always fretting about falling fertility rates.

  • Sinner

    Goonix, I’m surprised you didn’t mention that, in New Zealand, families with three or more children are overwhelmingly non-European — Maori, Pacific Islander, or other immigrants, rather than good, Aryan, New Zealand European stock. So in you argument, Helen is trying to breed out Aryans in New Zealand. But the policy is still eugenecist.

  • “Again, being ‘poor’ is always relative”

    But if the point of other policies is to increase income mobility (which is a relative not absolute measure as well), then it they would be counter-productive in this political sense, as people are more able to shift income brackets. Also, if you vote solely on your relative income, then the proportion of people voting labour will not change – as even if you increase the population the poorest half of the population is still only half the population!

    Furthermore, why does it necessarily give people on lower incomes more incentive to have children. If the payoff per kid declines fast enough, then since low income people have a lower opportunity cost of time and already have more children, isn’t it possible that the policy could lead to more middle class families having kids?

  • Goonix, apart from the jarring reference to the Nazis, surely there cannot be anything controversial in your post. I think the Labour Government has been quite upfront and overt about this. The erudite and superior Dr Cullen has openly stated that it is a deliberate strategy of Labour to increase government largesse because state beneficiaries, of whatever sort, tend to become the natural constituency of Labour.

    The radical move implicit in Working for Families was an attempt to ensure that middle class New Zealand also became dependant, and therefore part of the “natural” Labour constituency. An irony in all of this is that the more New Zealanders (whether upper or lower income brackets) become dependant upon government handouts, the lower the wighted average income will become and the poorer New Zealand will be. The first step to poverty is a welfare mentality–that is, a belief that I need government money in order to live. The end result is intergenerational welfare slavery. Socialist governments always believe that state dependance is a politically congenial and condign condition and they will seek to extend it as much as they are able.

  • goonix

    CPW – I said in the piece that the policy garnered votes *both* now and into the future.

    Sinner – good point, but the Aryan comment was said firmly tongue-in-cheek heh.

    Matt – What other policies promote income mobility? I’d say many policies promote the maintenance of people dependent on state handouts (as John then goes on to mention above). Poverty is relative, but that does not mean the proportion of people deemed to be in poverty remains static.

  • “An irony in all of this is that the more New Zealanders (whether upper or lower income brackets) become dependant upon government handouts, the lower the wighted average income will become and the poorer New Zealand will be.”

    What is the mechanism for this. Is it the fact that WFF increases the effective marginal tax rate for a large proportion of workers, or is it some sort of change to the rule of thumb individuals follow (their meme). I don’t think the tax effect is high enough, or the meme effect strong enough for this policy to make the middle class ‘slaves to the state’.

  • “What other policies promote income mobility?”

    I would assume that investment in education, and removing the liquidity constraint on the poor by reducing income inequality could both be conducive to increased income mobility.

    “Poverty is relative, but that does not mean the proportion of people deemed to be in poverty remains static.”

    True, however this involves a normative judgment as to how society views poverty. Unless you say, as John does, that this policy will increased the level with which people believe there is poverty, then nothing will change.

    The government can only spend what it taxes (this government is not borrowing after all), as a result there will be people that realise they would be better off if they had lower taxes and less welfare payments – how will these people become the ‘effective slaves to their welfare payment’ that you require for this view of the policy to make sense?

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