Pregnancy rates drop as women put off pregnancy during recession

Forget Greece, the economic crisis has a new casualty: babies. Financial worries are putting women off starting a family as fertility rates drop for the first time in 40 years

In times of economic crisis, we are supposed to stay at home and make the babies, right? Cuddling up on the sofa with a ready-meal and a trashy film instead of going out and flashing our cash should only help to heighten our amorous feelings towards our loved one, yes?

Wrong: Since the global economic downturn began in 2008, pregnancy rates have dropped for the first time in over 40 years, research revealed today.

Serious financial worries about the future has put off young professional women from starting a family, a study by the Vienna Institute of Demography has found.

‘Highly educated women react to employment uncertainty by adopting a ‘postponement strategy,’ especially if they are childless,’ says Tomáš Sobotka, one of the authors of the VID study.

Since 2008, fertility rates began to decline or stay the same in 17 countries in the EU, scientists found. And those countries who have suffered severe debt problems such as Greece and Ireland are more likely to see much longer-term fertility declines.

‘Countries like Greece, Ireland, Portugal, or Spain are likely to see protracted fertility declines due to a combination of very high unemployment and radical cuts in social spending,’ Mr Sobotka added.

‘Massive cuts in public spending in many developed countries, including Spain and the UK, aimed at reducing the budget deficit, will affect social and family-related expenditures and potentially also fertility.’

Researchers believe that a rise in unemployment and general job uncertainty was a ‘key factor’ behind this trend – and the decline in fertility rates could last until 2013 but it is unlikely to affect overall worldwide population growth.

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