17. Roman law penalized married couples with no children
Married couples who were unable to have children had their presumed disappointment aggravated by punishment under the law. Husbands between the ages of 25 and 60, and their wives from 20 to 50, were expected to reproduce. The penalties for not doing so were financial. Some couples attempted to adopt, thus having children in their household, but the Senate disregarded adoption as merely an attempt to circumvent the intent behind the law. Conversely, families with several children were awarded tax advantages and elevation of status in many cases.
The Augustan laws regarding marriage, and the later amendments to them, were enacted in response to falling birth rates. Roman leaders clearly desired large families, increasing the population as the empire continued to expand. Simply put, all eligible men and women were, under the law, required to marry or face increased taxation, as well as social disapproval. Once married they were to produce children. Violating the sanctity of marriage was a serious crime. Eventually, the Augustan laws faded into disuse, by the time of Constantine, and most were later formally repealed.