Fertility decreases as economies falter

young people

The suffering global economy has put stress on birth rates everywhere. This is more true in Europe in the last decade than in many other countries. The more unemployment rose, the greater the decrease in fertility compared to the number of babies expected without the economic crisis. New research from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock, Germany provides the details.

Young families hit hardest

The largest effect was seen in young adults under the age of 25. In the face of rising unemployment this group especially has refrained from having children. The drop of children per woman was largest for first births meaning that young European families have postponed family formation.

Temporary or permanent

It has yet to be seen if this means fewer children throughout a life. Many may be postponing only. “Fertility plans can be revised more easily at younger ages than at ages where the biological limits of fertility are approaching,” explained MPIDR demographer Michaela Kreyenfeld. Interestingly, the rate of first births to women over the age of 40 did not change due to rising unemployment.

Demographic research takes note of birth rates and population trends. This study confirms big changes and revised projections of population tied to the failing economy. Joblessness in contemporary Europe does in fact have an effect on birth rates.

Varies by country

Of course, Europe is not a single mass. Factors such as family policy and job security vary by country. Birth rates in southern Europe have been affected most aversely. “This is reflective of the especially unstable job situation at the beginning of the working life in the southern countries,” said demographer Kreyenfeld.

Decrease started in2008

“The financial crisis hit Europe at a time when birth rates in many countries had just began rising again,” said Kreyenfeld. “In some countries the crisis has just put a halt on the upward trend, in others birth rates actually declined.” Population growth came to a halt in Czech Republic, Poland, the UK and Italy. Russia and Lithuania saw a weakening of growth. No significant change for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. There were noticeable setbacks in Spain, Hungary, Ireland, Greece, Croatia and Latvia.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Demographic Research (online)


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