Kids? Maybe later…



Birth rates are declining at a record rate.

Madison Luna, Arts and Entertainment Editor

The world’s population reached 8 billion on November 15, 2022. Interestingly enough the global birth rate has dropped significantly. According to Axios, in 1974 the birth rate was 4.2 births per woman and in 2021 it dropped to 2.4 per woman. This does not mean that the population is collapsing but it does signify that there will be important social and economic repercussions.

There is no singular cause for the decline in the birth rate; multiple factors play a part. Believed causes include lack of affordable housing, concern over the future of the planet and economic prospects, short paternity leave, and postponement of marriage and childbearing. In an interview with The New York Times, Jessica Boer stated, “’I would have the responsibility to raise this person into a functional and productive citizen, and some days I’m not even responsible.”

Econofact emphasizes the fact that a shift in priorities could be the primary driver for the decline in the birth rate since 2007. “Young adults have different preferences for having children, aspirations for life, and views about parenting norms that are driving the decline in the U.S. birth rates.” 

There are particular countries that stand out when their birth rate is being discussed. South Korea has the lowest birth rate in the world which is .84 births per woman. The South Korean government is aware of the state of its birth rate and is trying to promote more births. Bloomberg stated, “South Korea plans to provide every family with a newborn child a monthly allowance of 1 million won ($740), in its latest move to encourage more births and try to address the world’s lowest fertility rate.” 

 The country with the highest birth rate is Niger with 6.89 births per woman. On average countries in Asia have lower birth rates while countries in Africa have the highest. According to The Economist, the decline in the birth rate in Asia comes from the decrease in marriages as well as the rise in the age at which people commit to having children. The Conversation claims Africa’s high birth rates have been due to high adolescent fertility rates and a prevalence of polygamous marriages. 

There are both positive and negative impacts due to the low birth rate. Negative impacts include an increased share of retired people, pressure on government spending, and a possible loss of innovation. On the other hand, there’s at least some good news for the environment: a lower birth rate means less pressure on the environment. It can lead to a reduction of humans’ carbon footprint and the risk of famine and drought may diminish. Furthermore, Economics Help says that, “Falling birth rates have enabled many women to pursue a much greater range of economic and social activities.”

It’s important to keep in mind that there are possible ways to increase the birth rate such as longer maternity leave or cash payments to new parents. Solutions differ depending on the country and what may work for the U.S. may not work for Japan or Chad. Only time will tell whether the birth rate will continue to decrease or will rise again.