When Courtney Fox entered the world just after midnight on July 1, 2004, the last thing on her mother's mind was that she had just qualified for $3000. Born at 12.01am, after a natural labour lasting about 24 hours, Courtney probably made her parents, Amanda Fox and James Laker, the first to qualify for the Government's baby bonus.
But many other parents appeared to have an eye on the money. It has now emerged that there were more births on July 1, 2004, than on any other day in the past 30 years. And with the baby bonus slated to rise a further $1000, to $4000, from this July 1, experts are tipping another birth bonanza. Professors Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh, who have been analysing birth figures, believe the introduction of the last baby bonus changed behaviour and the same thing is likely this time. "An additional $1000 is not the same as the first $3000, but it is still not trivial," Professor Gans said yesterday. "The hospitals weren't prepared for it last time. In three weeks' time it will be occurring again."
Women ensured they received the money by having their babies induced, or delivered by caesarean section, later than would otherwise have been the case. There was no change in the number of non-induced vaginal births....
The average number of babies born on a weekday is 729. On June 30, 2004, there was an extraordinarily low number of 490 babies born, but this rocketed to 978 babies on July 1, the highest number in the more than 10,000 days for which there are records. There were 907 babies born on July 2, with above average numbers of babies over the following weeks. There were 1089 more births in July than can be explained by normal statistical variation. Two thirds of the increase was the result of people delaying having their babies by less than a week....
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