Kate Morgan in BBC:
The global birth rate is falling. That’s not necessarily news; it’s been on the decline since 1950, according to data collected by Washington, DC-based non-profit Population Reference Bureau. But the decline in more recent years has been especially stark: in 2021, the global fertility rate is 2.3 births per woman; in 1990, it was 3.2. A new Pew Research Center survey found that a growing percentage of childless US adults ages 18 to 49 intend to remain that way. In every single European nation, fertility in 2021 was below the 2.1 births per woman generally considered the “rate of replacement” for a population. In a number of those countries, birth rates hit record lows.
It’s not hard to imagine why young people are hesitating to have large families. Financial stability is more difficult to achieve than ever. One in 10 non-retired Americans say their finances may never recover from the pandemic, and significant inflation could be looming in Europe. In many places, home ownership is all but a pipe dream. Political and civil unrest is rampant across the world, and climate is in crisis. It’s easy to adopt a dismal view of the future.
“The central explanation is the rise of uncertainty,” Daniele Vignoli, professor of demography at the University of Florence, said in his keynote address at a research workshop hosted on Zoom by the European University Institute. “The increasing speed, dynamics and volatility” of change on numerous fronts, he explains, “make it increasingly difficult for individuals to predict their future”.