Colin's Journal

Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.

June 12th, 2003

Declining birth rate

Yet another article deriding European culture as being “dead” because of the low birth rate across the continent. While the current low birth rate is a concern, and will have significant impact on pensions and immigration policy, to paint this as a European problem is misleading.

If you look at the birth rate across all of the OECD countries you find that 29 of the 30 have a birth rate less than the typical replacement rate of 2.1 to 2.2. Any comment to the effect that a low birth rate is somehow a result of European culture rather ignores the likes of Australia, South Korea, Canada, and Japan which have rates lower than some European countries (e.g. Ireland) and higher than others (e.g. Spain).

The truth is that all OECD countries (bar Mexico) now have a lower birth rate than replacement rate, and so any religious or cultural explanation of this is deeply flawed.

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