The NYT Is Worried That It Might Become Hard to Find Good Help in Tehran

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Sunday, 08 June 2014 11:00

That is the impression that readers of a piece on low birth rates in Iran might be led to believe. The piece told readers that Iran's government wants to raise the country's birth rate from its current 1.3 per couple. According to the piece, the government wants a higher birth rate to increase the power of Iran in the world and the power of its Shiite population in the Islamic world.

Towards the end the piece tells readers:

"Experts say that while birthrates in Iran are very low, there is no real crisis just yet."

It's not clear what the crisis would be in the future if Iran's low fertility rates continue. For those who think it is important that Iran's power in the world grow, or that Shiites become more important in the Islamic world, the continuation of a low birth rate among Iran's Shiites would indeed be bad news. However it is difficult to see why anyone else would be troubled by this prospect.

Iran has had high unemployment for many years and is likely to face continued high unemployment long into the future. In this context, a lower birth rate is likely to be good news since fewer labor market entrants will mean less competition for jobs. This should help to push up wages and living standards for those at the middle and bottom of the income distribution. It would be bad news for those looking for cheap household labor to mow their loans, clean their toilets, and serve as nannies for their kids.