Declining Birthrates

November 21, 2008 • Volume 18, Issue 41
Will the trend worsen global economic woes?
By Sarah Glazer

Introduction

a Swedish woman checks on her child in a stroller (AFP/Getty Imags/Sven Nackstrand)
While much of the industrialized world grapples with low birthrates, Sweden enjoys one of Europe's highest rates, in part by offering generous benefits to moms and dads. A mother walks her baby in Stockholm. (AFP/Getty Imags/Sven Nackstrand)

Nations around the globe worry that low or falling birthrates will cause severe economic problems, including shortages of workers to pay into social security systems to support growing numbers of retirees. While the coming retirement of American baby boomers engenders concern, the United States is exceptional among major industrialized Western nations because its birthrate produces enough children to maintain the population as elderly people die. Most of Europe as well as Japan and China are well below population replacement levels. The current global economic downturn could worsen the situation by forcing young couples to postpone having children until the economy improves. Meanwhile, governments are casting about for solutions, such as cutting spending on the elderly, requiring workers to stay on the job longer before drawing benefits and offering cash bonuses to families to encourage them to have more children.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Population
Jan. 16, 2015  Global Population Growth
Nov. 16, 2012  Changing Demographics
Nov. 21, 2008  Declining Birthrates
Jul. 17, 1998  Population and the Environment
Jul. 16, 1993  Population Growth
Oct. 26, 1984  Feeding a Growing World
Aug. 02, 1974  World Population Year
Nov. 24, 1971  Zero Population Growth
Nov. 01, 1967  Population Profile of the United States
Aug. 15, 1962  Population Control
Jun. 13, 1952  Overpopulation
Mar. 10, 1930  Population Problems
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Economic Analyses, Forecasts, and Statistics
General Employment and Labor
General Social Trends