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No, not really, no

Want to solve the falling birthrate? Just remember that raising children is expensive
Torsten Bell
When people fear for their jobs and the financial safety net is inadequate, is it any wonder they are having smaller families?

Torsten’s bit is fine. It’s The Observer’s subs who are wrong in that bit (nb, headlines and subheads are written by the subs, not the journalist).

Having a child is the expensive thing. Having a third after having had two isn’t that much of a hit at all. Thus the impact is upon the number of people who have children, not the number of children people have.

Not entirely and not exclusively, of course. But it would be fun to see the difference between “family size among those who have children” then and now. Because I am really very certain that it will have changed less than the overall fertility rate has.

19 thoughts on “No, not really, no”

  1. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    Family size is definitely down. At least, if you exclude the group that must not be named.

    I go with Mr Newman’s booster seat law theory as quite an important driver of this.

  2. As Tim implies… Scandianavians are most often presented as the gold standard – if only we taxpayers would fund for the sort of free child care they enjoy everything would be fine, etc. From what I’ve read, however, the Nordic ladies attribute their falling birth rate to producing only two bambinos/family rather than the four of previous generations. It isn’t so much that more women are remaining child free, so much as the number of kids mothers choose to produce. The third kid, they say, changes everything. Means buying a larger home, a bigger car, and – perhaps more importantly – pulls the plug on wife’s career, which is important to her (and the family finances) and just about manageable with two but impossible with three or more.

  3. The ONS say UK household size is 2.4 and this is broadly unchanged over the last 20-25 years.
    However they also say there’s been a steady rise in single person households.
    For both to be true, and it sounds reasonable that they would be, then . . .

  4. Getting from zero to one requires a husband and a home – things which are increasingly difficult to obtain. Once you’ve passed that barrier and had that first child, having a second is easier: you already have all the paraphernalia too (cot, changing table, buggy, infant car seat, bottles, etc.); and your social life is already screwed.

    Amongst parents at my children’s schools, the modal number of children is two. The observed rule is that parents stop once they have one girl and one boy. Obstacles to further children include advanced maternal age and difficult prior pregnancies (caesarean section).

  5. Children have become a luxury item and a lot of people therefore compare them to other luxury items. Most middle class couples can have a nicer house in a nicer area, multiple holidays a year and a couple of premium cars.

    Or they can have kids. Choose.

    As far as I can tell, the only people who produce a lot of kids are the poor (who receive state benefits and a council house) or the rich who have the money for boarding schools and a gang of filipinos.

  6. “Want to solve the falling birthrate? Just remember that raising children is expensive
    Torsten Bell”

    And don’t we Boomers know it – have friends in their mid-70s still working/shelling out for grandchildren’s education.

  7. CoVid so-called vaccines now being attributed to falling fertility rates, increased still-births, and increased irregularities in menstruation.

  8. Choices are made at the margins. Those margins are increasingly thin.

    (Declaration – Father of three). The private school fees are optional but the large house isn’t. Not many can do that in London. And if you live further out that means more driving which means less time working to afford said large house.

  9. If there are people who care more about having premium cars than having children then I’m glad they’re not having children.

  10. “A country that prioritises the assets of older generations, while leaving younger adults concentrated in lower-earning sectors, doing less secure jobs (the number of zero-hours contracts hit a record last week), bankrupted by childcare costs and renting poor-quality homes hasn’t got much to boast about. Fertility friendly it is not.”

    A lot of this is, frankly, about choices.
    1) you did a stupid degree in something no-one wants
    2) you live in central London despite working on a laptop
    3) you don’t work hard, and into “work-life balance” nonsense.
    4) you’re too picky about partners so can’t halve your rent.
    5) you have a luxury job that pays shit

    I know people with a mortgage and child. Hairdresser and her husband works for a local manufacturing firm. So:-
    1) no uni, did some C&G courses in something someone wanted, started working at 18
    2) live in Swindon (£200K instead of £700K)
    3) both work hard
    4) coupled
    5) do useful things people want doing

  11. The idea that falling birthrate is caused by poverty is proven by the data from across the world showing that the richest places have the highest birthrate and the poorest ones have hardly any children. Isn’t it?

  12. “CoVid so-called vaccines now being attributed to falling fertility rates, increased still-births, and increased irregularities in menstruation.”

    So is any and every nuclear plant ( and nowadays coal plant…) , Big Meat/Pharma/Oil/Industry, the continued existence of Cosmo, and the unfortunate conjunction of Venus with Pluto..

    Quite often the people tooting this horn forget/don’t know that soy has an actual scientifically proven negative effect on all those things, yet they insist on eating the stuff almost exclusively…

    This is why we can’t have nice things…

  13. BoM4: And of course, previous generations had more assets than their parents, lived in houses with triple-glazing and unicorn-powered central heating, had legally protected 20-hour working weeks, a state-provided nanny for 108 hours a week, and six hundred channels on the telly.

  14. Having had a girl followed by twin boys I would vehemently argue against the third child being cheapest. With one then another, most of the kit can be re-used. But with twins you can’t re-use the kit that the older twin has finished using because they’re still using it and thus you have to get two of everything, or worse you have to get rid of the first child’s equipment and get new, much more expensive double-whatevers. Cars that can legally take two adults and three children plus a double buggy and a (very much expanded) week’s shopping are few and far between. A bigger house will be necessary in the coming years, and they aren’t cheap, even in Yorkshire.

    Poor countries that see lots of large families do not have many of these costs forced onto parents. Even if it is not legal to balance the entire family on a 150cc motorbike, you probably won’t get into trouble for doing so. If you need a bigger house, you can knock up an extension yourself in a weekend with a handful of breeze blocks and some corrugated iron.


    At the 12 minute mark the Professor says “If I were a woman in fertile age I would not plan a motherhood from a man who was vaccinated”.

    Covidians 2021: ‘The jab stays in the jab site, the deltoid muscle. It categorically does not enter your organs and those internet ‘experts’ who says it does are tin foil hat conspiracy theory nutjobs spreading lies and misinformation’. Except of course it does. And they new it.

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