It is always worrying when a catchy title is also dogmatic. ‘No Kidding’ you might, as I did, expect something light and insightful and humorous, but not a bit of it. This was barefaced economics. This article is more about replacing old (greater than 50-year-olds) people with those newly born – a slightly different accent on the issue solely of births and fertility or, more properly, fecundity. Low birth rates tended to happen in different places within the same time frame, but these statistics can happen in one of two ways: either families are smaller or childlessness between couples is rising.
In the UK, the number of childless couples has now risen to 1 in 4. In Japan, it is 1 in 3, and in Italy, 2 out of 5. Interestingly, of those who are childless, 20% are by volition but 80% are non-voluntary childless couples, and this of course is where the issue of fertility rather than the economics of running a family may be more relative. In this article, those who are childless without volition are argued to be purely due to economics, but also the article does mention how we may be running out of time. The proper conclusion – certainly from an economic basis – is to encourage the women to start their families younger, but I do think this article misses the elephant in the room, which is that human fertility may well be gradually declining, exacerbated of course by all the other factors mentioned in this article.
From the point of view of the medical professionals and others involved in matters of fertility, we are clearly worried that total global birth rates peaked in 2014, but we must work tirelessly to explore whether there are underlying and treatable causes for this stark observation.