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Facts and Figures: Falling Birth Rates

1. Core Knowledge:

There is a global decline in the number of children born to each woman; each woman has half as many children as her counterpart did in 1972. In Canada (2006 data) there were about 1.5 births per woman; 2.1 would be required to maintain the population.

Why?

What is the impact?

 

2. Nice to Know

What can we do?

 

World Data:

 

Nerd's Corner: Is a one-child policy necessary?
  Philip Bowring, a Hong Kong based journalist has written forcefully against the Chinese one-child policy ("Lurid stories of forced abortions...a policy which has given the Communist Party outrageous power..." etc). He makes the following arguments:
1. Singapore and Hong Kong saw steep declines in birth rates with no such policy (Singapore went from 6 births per woman in 1950 to 1.8 in 1980).
2. Although these are atypical city-states, other, more rural countries have also seen declines: Thailand and South Korea.
3. Thailand made this possible "simply by making contraception easily available in all locations and being unabashed about sex." (Can it be that simple?)
4. Bowring argued that abandoning the one-child policy may not make much difference in China: there are now relatively few women of child-bearing age in rural areas thanks to widespread urban migration. And urban areas will follow the international trend: Shanghai currently allows couples a second child but has a birth rate of 0.7 per woman, one of the lowest in the world.
5. The sex imbalance in China, combined with growing education and working opoortunities for women, is far too large for easy solution. China is too large for immigration to have an effect. Bowring argues that the Chinese government will have to use public funds to lower the opportunity cost of having children - e.g., providing job protection for mothers, tax incentives and free education for the children.
(Hong Kong Sunday Morning Post, July 29, 2012)

 

More Detail:  
International declines in birth rates (article from Foreign Affairs)

Updated August 7, 2014