Birth rates are plummeting worlwide. Why?

That birthrates are plummeting around the world is testament to the fact that life is generally getting better. With rising incomes, there are more income-earning opportunities, particularly for women. In many countries the amount of education needed for a given job has increased. People are studying longer and working harder.

The cost of having a baby needs to be considered against the loss of income from a woman’s wages, a trade-off that was not required when jobs for women were relatively few and far between. As a consequence women are often choosing not to have babies.

Further, women are getting married later and having babies later in life, so they will end up having fewer children compared with women who start having children much earlier in life.

Ananish Chaudhuri
Auckland, New Zealand
The writer is professor of experimental economics at the University of Auckland and the author of the forthcoming “Economics: A Global Introduction.”