It works like this: every adult has an income allowance, as in the UK, on which no tax is payable. Two people living together will have two allowances that can be combined if one is not working. Have one child and they gain an extra half allowance. A second child adds a further half. But a third child gains a whole extra allowance, so a family of two adults and three children has four times the single person allowance, which is quite a bit higher than the average income here.
So, for us, no tax this year. Nearly. …
Family allowance follows a similar sort of pattern: nothing at all for the first child, beyond a one-off grant for baby stuff followed by some limited payments for the first year or so, but for two children one receives €117 per month. Or that was the case when we had just two. Add a third child and the allowance more than doubles to around €445.
We even get a grant to buy them school stuff each August.
Just to be clear, however, we didn’t have our youngest daughter solely to get the tax breaks. We’re not that cold blooded. A little careless, perhaps, but not cold blooded.
So why the largess? Well, the French don’t just blather on about “children being our future:” they actually believe it. Faced with a declining birth-rate – in common with the rest of the developed World – they recognised that they were going to have considerable problems meeting the bill for pensions and providing care for the elderly in a few years time. Although getting the birth-rate up would not, on its own, solve the problem, it was reasoned that without stabilising the population and getting the average age down a bit, no solution would be possible, whatever other changes might be made.
And they’ve succeeded. On average, French women are having just over two children apiece, giving the country the highest birth-rate in Europe.
Wow! Just over two?! They’re going to have to try harder than that to make it into this newspaper.