Fertility is down. Not fertility in the sense of being able to conceive, but fertility rate.
Simply put: Women in developed nations are not having the number of babies they used to.
Sure, we’ve observed this. That “one and done” is on the rise. That the age for childbirth is increasing, so the time to have more babies is limited. That more and more women are seeking higher education, climbing the career trajectory, putting family life on hold.
We’ve observed this. But new data out of the US has confirmed it.
The number of babies being born per female in America is lower than it has ever been in recorded history.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), released on Tuesday, found the rate known as the ‘fertility rate’ (even though it’s not about biological fertility) has dropped more than 10 per cent since 2007 in the US. It’s currently at the lowest point it has ever been since recording started in 1909.
The rate is at 62.5 births per 1,000 women.
In Australia, the trend is the same. Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last year showed the average number of babies born per woman was at it’s lowest in 10 years. The national fertility rate is at 1.8 children per woman. In short, the fertility rate of developed nations is below replacement levels.
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Part of this drop is that women are having children later in life. Between egg freezing and IVF, the age of first-time childbirth is rising, and the number of children per family is falling.
This falling fertility rate might seem like a win for the planet. Humans are working the Earth to the ground. Like guests that have overstayed our welcome; there is not enough space for all of us. Our endless procreation is leading to environmental issues, famine, poverty gaps, war, conflict, migration. It’s not sustainable.
Yes, you might say, dropping fertility rates is a good thing. You might cite the fertility rates in developing countries – for example in Africa, which has the highest fertility rate in the world at 4.7 children per woman – and argue that dropping fertility rates in developed countries like America and Australia is simply balancing this out.
But it’s not that simple.
But what about the localised picture? What does the drop in fertility in developing countries mean for these countries specifically.