‘Baby bust’ warning as global 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.
Meanwhile, 104 nations were seeing population increases due to their high fertility rates (rates above two).
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 and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, said: “These statistics represent both a ‘baby boom’ for some nations and a ‘baby bust’ for others.
“The lower rates of women’s fertility clearly reflect not only access to and availability of reproductive health services, but also many women choosing to delay or forgo giving birth, as well as having more opportunities for education and employment.”