Why is the Birth Rate in England and Wales Declining?

The latest statistics rom the ONS show that half of all women now remain childless until they are 30, which reflects a longer term trend of declining birth rates in England and Wales.

In fact, birth rates have been declining for around 10 years now, previous to which they had been increasing, but why is this?

This topic is an update relevant to the Families and Households module.

Why have birth rates been declining for the last decade?

Writing in The Guardian, Poly Toynbee identifies two main reasons to do with increasing economic hardship and Conservative austerity policies which fail to make work attractive for women with children.

She notes that the dip in the birth rate started when The Coalition government introduced their austerity policies in 2012, and this meant heavy cuts to child services, such as Sure Start, making it less appealing to have children.

But mainly this change seems to be about economic factors – people have fewer children when they think there are going to be tough economic times ahead – and our economies been creaking for years, especially if we look at the cost of housing.

You may think that the chosen social response to the Pandemic that was Lockdown would have encouraged people to have more children, as work has become more home-based, but the reality of this for women was having to balance home working and home schooling.

And now there’s more uncertainty than ever going forwards – about the Pandemic, about the economy, and, frankly, who can blame anyone for not wanting to bring children into this new post-pandemic world of ours.

NB…. this could have dire consequences ten years down the line for our ageing population, now there will be even fewer working age to retired people.

Sources/ Find out More.

I heard about the ‘half of all women are childless until 30’ stat on Radio Four this morning.

The latest ONS figures on birth and death rates.

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