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Friday July 19, 2024

Birth rates halve in richer countries as costs weigh: report

By Reuters
June 21, 2024
Flora Matty holds her newborn child, Malaki, after giving birth in the Family Birth Center at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, U.S., February 1, 2022. — REUTERS/
Flora Matty holds her newborn child, Malaki, after giving birth in the Family Birth Center at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, U.S., February 1, 2022. — REUTERS/

WASHINGTON: Birth rates have dropped sharply in some of the world’s richest states and are likely to stay low as economic worries leave people weighing the costs of having children, a report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said.Many in OECD member countries were now choosing to have children later in life or not at all, it said in a paper released on Thursday. “Both young men and women increasingly find meaning in life outside of parenthood,” it added.

The total fertility rate dropped to 1.5 children per woman in 2022 from 3.3 in 1960 on average across OECD countries, the report said, using a unit measuring the average number of children born per woman over a lifetime.

“While OECD countries are using a range of policy options to support families, the economic cost and long-term financial uncertainty of having children continue to significantly influence people’s decision to become parents”, Stefano Scarpetta, director of the OECD’s Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Directorate, said in a conference call.

Particularly low total fertility rates were measured in Korea, at 0.7 and Italy and Spain, each with 1.2 children per woman. The highest were in Israel on 2.9, followed by Mexico and France, each with 1.8.