Australian hospitals are bracing for a baby boom in July as expectant mothers try to delay imminent births to take advantage of a new welfare payment, researchers said Monday.
From July 1, a baby bonus paid to the parents for every newborn child will increase by A$1,000 ($740) to A$4,000.
Economists said that after the baby bonus was introduced in July 2004 about 700 births were delayed by a week to take advantage of the new payment.
Melbourne Business School economist Professor Joshua Gans and Australian National University colleague Andrew Leigh said that around 300 births were moved by more than two weeks.
Most of those births involved caesarean sections or induced deliveries, they said.
In a bid to overcome Australia’s low fertility rate and aging population, Prime Minister John Howard’s conservative government has urged couples to have more children.
Treasurer Peter Costello suggested two years ago that Australian couples should have “one for mum, one for dad and one for the country.”
Revision date: June 20, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.