Fertility is now below replacement level in most European countries, especially the industrialized ones. In the last 20 years, several countries have developed or improved pronatalist programs containing incentives that are designed to motivate couples to have a 2nd and especially a 3rd child, to maintain a stable population. The WHO Sexuality and Family Planning Unit called a short consultation on this subject last October. What actually constitutes a pronatalist population program and the connections between public policies and private reproductive behavior were not very clear. Nor is it easy to assess the longer--term demographic effects of pronatalist policies or what influences their effectiveness. The outcome usually reflects the country's history, cultural and religious traditions, changes in lifestyle, and the value given to the family and children. Incentives are defined as monetary or nonmonetary inducements to voluntary reproductive behavior that conforms to specified population policies. They may be small or large, in cash or kind, parity-specific or income-linked, immediate or developed, one-time or incremental, or any combination of these. Disincentives are negative sanctions that are either incurred or thought likely as a result of violating the policy. But both incentives and disincentives are difficult to define. Pronatalist policies designed to encourage early marriage and larger families, thereby raising the future total fertility rate should not be confused with traditional social welfare policies designed simply to ease the burden of childbearing. Some policies have both demographic and social welfare aims. Strong pronatalist policies may be linked with restrictions on contraceptive availability and legal abortion. Moreover, other public policies affecting social security, education, employment, housing, regional planning and the emancipation of women may unintentionally influence demographic behavior. Population policies are the product of politics. Often written in ambiguous language and intended to affect society as a whole, they still depend for their outcome on microlevel changes in a couple's perceptions of the costs and benefits of having children. In theory, they can be carried out in many ways but in practice such policies are severely limited by administrative, political, technological, economic, and ethical constraints. One difficulty is that governments is rarely enunciate precise goals. Their approach may range from noninterference in private reproductive behavior to total coercion using controls ranging from traditional cultural influences to imposition of fertility regulations. In some countries, fertility rates have increased briefly (in terms of period rates) following introduction of pronatalist policies. However, it is not clear how the rates were influenced, particularly in the case of parities 1, 2, and 3. A forthcoming report will describe experiences in Bulgaria, France, Germany, Sweden, and Norway.