If you compare the birth rates of developed or developing countries, you would see that not many women are giving birth to children as they did before. Sure, it might be a good thing at one end, since we already have a burgeoning world population. Having fewer people in the future will make Earth a more sustainable place. However, what is it that is driving the change? Why are fewer women having children today compared to say a decade or two back?
Understanding the Problem
A lot of women around the globe are having children with low birth rates. Women below the age of thirty are especially having fewer children. The only women who are consistently having children than before are above 40 years.
Fertility has generally been declining in women under the age of 30 and those in their 20s but rising in women in their 40s. The rate at which a generation replicates itself has been declining over the past few years.
Some of the factors that have resulted in low birth rates include:-
- More women are resolving not to have children in their 30s and delaying until their 40s. Women want to achieve more in their early ages such as getting degrees, traveling the world and just having fun. Delaying childbearing will result to low birth rates.
- For many people in developing countries, the recession hit hard. For instance, in America, the government used $40 million less on births. Women fear to bring a child into a poor economy.
- A few simply never want children.
The reasons why people do not want to have children are complex and varied. If we look at European countries such as Germany and Italy the overall birth rate has always been low. In preindustrial Europe men and women did not get married while they were maids but when they could set up their own households. To stay unmarried and childlessness was a sign of economic failure but people only faced mild discriminating.
In this modern age, the same attitude still lingers in Western Germany. Childlessness is associated with working mothers. Many working mothers have simply opted out of giving birth. There are rarely any baby nurseries in Germany a woman who put a child in one is abused. They are mostly referred to as “Rabenmutter” meaning raven mother.
Almost everywhere educated women are less likely to have children. As mentioned earlier it is one of the reasons why women opt out of having many kids. In addition, the type of degree or career one is studying for deeply influences marriage and childbearing. For instance, teaching and midwifery attract women who want to have kids. They also offer more parent-friendly hours and conditions as compared to a scientist.
Nobody knows if the rate of childlessness will rise further. In developed countries, childlessness is not a calamity but it is becoming a norm. In the long run, it might not be such a terrible fate.