‘Baby bust’ fears as fer­til­ity rates fall

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS -

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.”

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