How to Engineer a Baby Boom

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Science  29 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6042, pp. 551
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6042.551

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Over the past few years, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore—with Hong Kong, sometimes called the "Asian tigers" for their rapid economic growth in the 1970s and '80s—have unveiled policies directed at filling maternity wards, and fast. The impetus is a fear that the pool of workers that drove the East Asian boom will soon dry up. The three countries' total fertility rates, or the number of children a woman is expected to have over her lifetime, hover between 1.1 and 1.3—beneath the threshold of what demographers call "lowest-low fertility" and among the lowest in the world.