Thought bubble: “parental help vouchers”
Child subsidies are a vexing issue for me. Especially concerning is the idea of subsidising mothers and parents to have children when those mothers and parents are unable to even look after themselves. It seems to me undesirable to give child subsidies to long-term unemployed people, but at the same time concern for the child means that there will be popular support for some sort of welfare.
So this is my “thought bubble” for the day: Instead of providing long-term unemployed parents with a baby bonus and family payments, offer a voucher for the same amount which must be spent on “outside parental help”. Businesses and non-profit organisations could enter the market to provide “parental help” to mothers and parents who are clearly in need of some outside assistance. The parental help providers would come around regularly and provide baskets of necessary goods such as clothes, diapers, baby food, doctors appointments & other necessities.
There are three benefits that I can see:
(1) Given that the mother/parents are unable to look after themselves, it seems unrealistic to simply assume they are capable of responsible money management… and so this will make it more likely that the “child welfare” is actually being spent in the best interests of the child;
(2) Given that the mother/parents are unable to look after themselves, it seems unrealistic to simply assume they are capable of looking after another person… and so this will ensure that a 3rd party is also keeping an eye on the child to ensure they are being properly cared for and provide them with some employed role-models; and
(3) If parents want to get full control over how the “child subsidy” money is spent, at least one of them must have a job or a regular source of non-government income. This provides an incentive to get a job so that the children aren’t growing up without a working parent.
The downsides of this that I can see straight away are that (a) it doesn’t address the mess that is child subsidies in general; (b) it requires a bureaucracy to register & monitor “parental help” providers; and (c) poor-quality mothers/parents may not put in enough effort to ensure they find a high-quality “parental help” provider. But as it could improve the welfare of the children and would marginally improve the incentives of the parents, I think it may be worth considering.
Cambodian NGO offering personal equity finance so that poor students can attend university.
Professional Research Institute for Management and Economics (PRIME)
Research institute providing research, resources, books, and activities that promote prosperity, freedom, and happiness in Cambodia.