Canada’s baby deficit

Cute Baby Pic

I recently read a very interesting article entitled “Can we feed the need to breed?” by Lianne George published in May’s edition of Maclean’s magazine. (And, by the way, had I known that I could read it online, I would have saved the money I paid to photocopy it from the college’s student health office while Brad and I were waiting the half hour after his final Twinrix vaccination).

Basically, the article discussed the deficit that currently exists in birth rate vs. death rate, why this is occurring, and what the future will look like if it stays the way it is right now. Below, I’ve outlined some of the key points of the article.

  • Our current birth rate is 1.5 children per woman. We need one of 2.1 to replace ourselves.
  • Birth rates across the developed nations are similar – Russia, Ireland, Britain, Spain, Italy, Australia, etc.
  • Women, on average, are having their first children at 31 (oh goodness, how I hope to be a mother long before that!)
  • Analysists are estimating “a shortage of 1.2 million workers by 2020” – a prominent professor asserts that for every two people retiring in the next few decades, less than one person will exist to take their place
  • Immigration, as the government touts as the solution, may work for now, but will not work for long, as all developed nations will be fighting for them – our current birth rate will require 500 to 750 000 immigrant per year – a substantial increase from the current 240 000

The article goes on to discuss some of the practices in place in other countries to encourage families to have children. In France, for example, large families are eligible for NO tax, subsidized rent and transportation, and parental leaves that can extend for years at a time – not to mention $325 per year for extracurricular activities.

I can’t do the whole article justice by a few paragraphs – you’ll have to read it and get the whole picture. I think for me the most interesting quote was the one I’ve copied below:

“In a hyper-indiviualistic, ultra-commodified culture like ours, motherhood, for better and worse, is less a fact of life than just another lifestyle choice,” (George, 2007, p.40).

Hmmm. What do you think? When did childbearing become a lifestyle choice as opposed to a fact of life? Is this a choice that should even be ours to make?



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5 responses to “Canada’s baby deficit

  1. “oh goodness, how I hope to be a mother long before that!”
    You make it sound like 31 is old. 😉

    • Dave,

      Statistically, Phillip Longman, who wrote, “The Empty Cradle”, a riveting and sobering read, said, “For a variety of reasons, American women have also been putting off childbirth until later in life. Longman notes that— “…recent studies show that a woman’s fertility begins to drop at age 27, and by age 30 can decline by as much as 50 percent.” And for practical reasons, the chances of having multiple children decline with age.”

      I was 27 when my first child was born. But, fortunately, my wife was just 20. Together, we have had nine (9) children, the youngest is 11 years old. I turn 58 in December 2011. We followed what I called then (and now) the “planned parenthood” program (versus the ‘planned non-parenthood’ program by the organization that bears a similar name). We had a child about every 2 years or so.

      My father-in-law had two children by one wife (who deserted him and her children for an affair), had ten children by his second wife. She gave birth to their first child at age 29. And, counter to the evidence given above, proceeded to bear a total of 10 children in 13 years! (She is 91 now, and my father-in-law is 95). Both have surpassed the ages of many more timid souls. BTW, my wife was the 11th of her father’s and the 9th of her mother’s children.

      Also, interestingly, my father-in-law, who was, himself, the 3rd child of his parents’ 9 children, and the oldest son, now has more posterity (63 grandchildren, and 77 or 78 great-grandchildren, with more on the way), than ALL of his 8 siblings do COMBINED!

      But even some of his grandchildren are postponing childbearing, and some have ‘closed the door’ on having further children (unfortunately for everyone, in my opinion).

      My wife and I have seven grandchildren, with the eighth on the way. And, we hope, to have many, many more grandchildren down the line.

      But among my father-in-law’s grandchildren, I see disturbing reproduction trends. Among those who have already born children, many seem to be limiting the number they are willing to have. Among my wife’s siblings (one of whom has had no children, but counting him in), she and her siblings averaged 5.25 children per sibling. I come from a family of eight children. I am the sixth of those eight. My ‘baby’ sister (45) has never married nor had children. But, also, counting her in, among my siblings, we averaged 5.125 children per sibling.

      On my wife’s side of the family, none of her parents’ grandchildren have had more than 5 children (3 of them, so far, have had five). And so none of them have quite risen to even the ‘average’ of their parents’ generation.

      On my side of the family, none of my nieces or nephews have had more than 4 children. That generation’s most currently being 1.125 children below my generation’s average!

      Back in the 1870’s, my great-great grandfather, went on a trip to both the Midwest in the US, where his early adulthood was spent, and in the Northeastern US, where he was born and raised. In a biography of his life, his brother quotes him as saying a couple of times during that trip, “People don’t believe in (having) children anymore!”

      So it is today! The benefits of having many children, I can tell you, include this— they have more fun, especially as they get older, in seeing each other, and doing things together. Contrast this with the number of families, and generations of families who, if they have any children, they may have only one—and, where this goes on for several generations, there are few if any siblings, few if any aunts or uncles, etc. Besides not being a functional model economically, it is a very, very, very lonely world!

  2. kimschell

    31 *is* old!! LOL (to all you others, I can say that because Dave’s 31 and we’re friends!!)

  3. I wish it was a choice we could make. I’d certainly choose it.

  4. kimschell

    I wish I could choose for you, too!

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