Planet Money

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Shopping for parental benefits around the world

It is so expensive to have a kid in the United States. The U.S. is one of just a handful of countries worldwide with no federal paid parental leave; it offers functionally no public childcare (and private childcare is wildly expensive); and women can expect their pay to take a hit after becoming a parent. (Incidentally, men's wages tend to rise after becoming fathers.)

But outside the U.S., many countries desperately want kids to be born inside their borders. One reason? Many countries are facing a looming problem in their population demographics: they have a ton of aging workers, fewer working-age people paying taxes, and not enough new babies being born to become future workers and taxpayers. And some countries are throwing money at the problem, offering parents generous benefits, even including straight-up cash for kids.

So if the U.S. makes it very hard to have kids, but other countries are willing to pay you for having them....maybe you can see the opportunity here. Very economic, and very pregnant, host Mary Childs did. Which is why she went benefits shopping around the world. Between Sweden, Singapore, South Korea, Estonia, and Canada, who will offer her the best deal for her pregnancy?

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Wanna see a trick? Give us any topic and we can tie it back to the economy. At Planet Money, we explore the forces that shape our lives and bring you along for the ride. Don't just understand the economy – understand the world.

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