There's are slump in the birthrate in general. | TONI ESCOBAR


Over the past few weeks I have noticed that there has been many articles appearing regarding the falling birthrate in Britain and for that matter in Europe in general. It seems that not only are potential modern mothers and fathers delaying having children, but many have decided not to start a family at all.

At its lowest level, this very personal decision, of course, should be a question for the man and woman involved and quite frankly nobody else’s business. However, such is the slump in the birthrate in general, there are genuine concerns as to the social and economic model we currently believe to be good for society overall. Indeed, even I have noticed article upon article appearing in the national press in these parts commenting upon the steady fall in children being born in our two countries.

The economic argument is apparently very straightforward - this being, as people live longer and longer… who in the long-term, will pay through taxation, the money to sustain these folk in old-age? To some economists this is the reality of that often used cliche i.e. “The elephant in the room.” So why is it that potential parents do not want to start families of their own, not just for a few years, but ever?

Could it be the harsh economic climate that we are all suffering to some extent at the moment? Yes, maybe that is part of it, but in times gone past, worse economic times than we are suffering at the moment didn’t affect the birth rate, in fact in some instances the birthrate rose alarmingly. Might it be that the cosy certainty of married bliss and 2.4 children by the time that the parents are in their mid-twenties has become somewhat of a misty-eyed myth nowadays? The fact of the matter is that couples, if they have children, have them much later than they once did - and mostly if they do start a family we are not talking of multiple siblings as in ages-gone-past.

As a ‘Baby Boomer’ i.e. born between the early 1950’s and the mid 1960’s - I was brought up in a sixteen house, council-owned cul-de-sac, alongside two brothers and a very bossy elder sister and our family was fairly typical. Indeed, I have done a head count and at one time in our little corner of the world, there were fifteen of us kids living there under the age of eleven. Hey, they didn’t call us ‘baby-boomers’ for nothing! So then, why this sudden drop-off in the birth rate? Once again, in reading various articles about the aspirations of potential modern mothers and fathers, it seems that motherhood or indeed fatherhood is pretty low-down on the list of personal needs or wants, until perhaps a couples mid/late thirties, if at all. As I hinted at earlier, this is not merely a British phenomenon, as I understand that Spain among other European nations has a similarly regressive birthrate with family units becoming much smaller that even a generation ago. Although the economic argument against starting a family is a powerful one for many people, I am not alone in thinking that the very process and desirability of parenthood is not what it was just a few decades ago. I wonder why?