The latest supply shortage to hit Canada: newborns. The country’s fertility rate fell to its lowest level on record in 2022, with a paltry 1.33 children born per woman that year.
Driving the news: Fertility rates have been dropping since 2009, but briefly spiked in 2020 and 2021 when everyone was stuck inside with nothing better to do than hunker down and… you know 😏. When the world re-opened in 2022, it led to the steepest year-over-over drop since 1972 (which was spurred by the decriminalization of contraception and abortion).
Why it’s happening: A lot of folks at traditionally child-rearing ages are looking around at the world and going, “Huh, doesn’t seem like the best place to raise a kid” — be it because of the high costs, lack of affordable housing, or the looming spectre of climate change.
- Even Canadians who do want kids are having fewer than ever or focusing on their careers and livelihood first, and then having children later in life.
Why it matters: Canada’s working-age population is old and only growing older. To keep economic growth afloat, the country needs to replace the aged with a steady flow of babies, who will grow up to be workers and consumers… who also have kids. It’s the circle of life.
- Canada’s immigration push has boosted the population despite the baby drop, but it isn’t a fix-all, as young folk moving here can also reach the same conclusion of not wanting kids.
Zoom out: Canada isn’t the only nation with the baby-making blues, as global fertility rates have halved since 1950. The populations of Japan and China are in decline, and South Korea — which has the lowest fertility rate — will see its pop drop starting next year.—QH