Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Europe isn't producing enough children

Every country in Europe except Turkey and Ireland has a total fertility rate below replacement. That magic number is 2.1. This is the average number of children per woman that stabilises population size over the long run.

Among industrialized countries, the US, France, the UK and Australia tend to have higher than average fertility rates. These countries have a long history of welcoming migrants, who tend to have higher fertility rates than indigenous populations. In the case of the UK, almost one birth in four is now to a mother born overseas.

Eastern European fertility rates are, in part, depressed by the high outward migration rates. Young people tend to be the most eager to leave their homes and search for work abroad. Therefore, the slightly higher than average fertility rates in countries like the UK and France should be weighed against the unusually low fertility rates in countries like Poland and the Czech Republic.

Taking Europe as a whole, the fertility rate is desperately low. Without large migration flows from outside the continent, the European population will soon begin to rapidly shrink. Or to put it more bluntly, Europe isn't producing enough children.


  1. So demand on the planet's resources, for the human race, declines. Is this a bad thing or nature addressing the balance?

  2. oldrightie,

    I have just done a post that partly addresses your concerns.

    I am most certainly not a Malthusian.