King Rat (gkr) wrote,
King Rat

Line-cutting benefits of pregnancy? (Eco 200 assignment question)

(individual) In the early 1980s, when the Polish people had to stand in long lines in order to purchase most consumer goods, the government ordered that every third place in line be reserved for pregnant women or disabled persons. This was presumably done to reduce their discomfort. Do you think it resulted in less standing in line by pregnant women? Do you suppose any women became pregnant in order to be able to cut into the long lines?

I can't answer definitively on this, which could have been done to measure the success of the government initiative. I could see where this would have the intended effect if pregnant women were a small minority of the population. My expectation is that prior to such a decree that many pregnant women designated other family members to stand in line rather they queue themselves. After the decree, many might themselves wait because their families could receive better rations with acceptable effort. Given that even now occasionally there are women who have additional children for the welfare benefits, I could see some women (very very very few, though) becoming pregnant for such a benefit. It's not a very valuable benefit, and pregnancy has some large costs involved. In India today some parents are reputed to disable their children to increase their takings from begging on the streets, because the increased donations are seen as worth more than the cost of begging. I head that tale when I was in India, but it could be apocryphal. It is clear by the mere spreading of such tales though that many people see there being such a point where the value accruing to them would be great enough; they just didn't see themselves at such a position right then (or ever likely). I would similarly consider such line-cutting pregnancies as possible but extremely rare and unlikely.

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