‘Baby bust’ fears as fertility rates fall
Declining fertility rates around the world are leading to a “baby bust” in many countries including the UK, health experts have warned.
Globally fertility rates, which represent the average number of children a woman delivers over her lifetime, have declined since 1950 and in 91 nations, rates are now not high enough to maintain current population levels.
The large-scale study, published in the Lancet, found that in 2017, 91 countries (including the UK, Singapore, Spain, Norway and South Korea) had rates lower than two and were not maintaining their current population size.
The lowest rate was in Cyprus where, on average, a woman now gives birth to one child throughout her life, while the highest was in Niger, with a total fertility rate of seven children.
The fertility rate in the UK is 1.7, which is similar to most Western European countries.
Dr Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics at the University of Washington, said: “We’ve reached this watershed where half of countries have fertility rates below the replacement level, so if nothing happens the populations will decline in those countries.”