A mother takes photos with her baby under cherry blossoms in full bloom in Tokyo, Japan, on March 29, 2015. Shared parental leave policies can help create a positive correlation between female labor participation and birthrates.
During the two months I recently spent away from work to fulfill my demographic duty, I found that most of my conversations with visitors followed the same pattern. The talk quickly turned from the standard cooing over my baby girl to an intensive debate over parental leave: how much time and flexibility to grant new parents in the workforce, how to reconcile career ambitions with the responsibilities of human procreation, how to compensate for the crazy cost of child care and how to boost birthrates. As a white-collar, taxpaying working mother in the United States, I had become one of the statistics I used to pore over as an analyst pondering the implications of aging and shrinking populations. But you don't have to be a parent -- or an analyst, for that matter -- to care about this stuff. In fact, a lot of the global angst today over stagnant economic...
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