UK ‘Baby Shortage’ Could Lead to Economic Decline, Think Tank Says | Childcare
Britain faces a “baby shortage” that could lead to “long-term economic stagnation,” a think tank said.
The Social market foundation (SMF) said the birth rate was almost half of what it was at its post-war heyday in the 1960s, and the country’s aging population could lead to economic decline.
He said ministers should set up an intergovernmental task force to examine the issue, and that a useful measure could be better childcare provision. The think tank said typical British working parents spend 22% of their income on full-time childcare, more than double the average for Western economies.
The birth rate in England and Wales peaked in 1964 when the number of children per woman averaged 2.93. Last year it was 1.58, well below the replacement level of 2.1 needed to keep the population rate stable, and in Scotland it was even lower at 1.29.
In a report, Baby Bust and Baby Boom: Examining the Liberal Case for Pronatalism, the SMF said this would ultimately lead to a shortage of working-age adults.
“Natalism” is the policy or practice of encouraging childbearing, especially through government support for a higher birth rate.
“Right now there are just under three over 65s for every 10 workers, but by the middle of the next decade that ratio will drop to 3.5, and by the 2060s the number will approach four, “the report said. .
“According to these projections, by 2050 a quarter of Britons will be over 65, compared to a fifth today.
“This combination of a lower share of the labor force and a higher share in need of economic support clearly has a negative effect on the productive capacity of the economy.”
The report states that 28% of countries in the world specifically adopt birth rate policies to increase the birth rate. In some countries these may take the form of direct payments to parents, such as in France, where there is a ‘birth allowance’ worth € 950 (£ 810).
The report recommends the creation of an inter-ministerial working group to ensure that when policies are set, ministers take into account the impact they could have on population growth.
Dr Aveek Bhattacharya, chief economist of SMF and one of the authors of the report, said: “The question of whether the government should step in to try to increase the birth rate is clearly a sensitive subject that needs to be addressed. treated with delicacy.
“However, given the alarming drop in fertility rates and the risks that an aging population poses to our social and economic well-being, this is a discussion we should not shy away from.”