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Term used to describe a sustained drop in fertility rates. Fewer babies are born, which could be good in the short-medium term as it means less resources need to be spent on childminding and education. However later there would be fewer people available to pay taxes or push older people in bathchairs. This coming phenomenon is known as an Agequake.

Fertility has fallen due to:

  • Contraception: Naturally, birth control will reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies.
  • Social disruption: Birth rates dropped during the Great Depression when husbands felt they were unable to provide a secure household.
  • Sexual equality: Once women are able to provide for themselves, they are less dependent on a male breadwinner, and may find children a hinderence to their own careers.
  • Gender mix: An undersupply of men (say, after a war) or women (in pioneer communities) means fewer unions.
  • Heterogenity: If a community consists of many separate groups who only socialise in their own circles, the choice of mates for each person is reduced.

    In countries where women have more freedom in the workplace than in the home, and can pick when and who they will partner with, fertility rates will be low. Examples include Singapore, Japan, Italy, Greece, Spain, and most urban environments (New York, Shanghai etc). Instead, women from lower socio-economic groups tend to do the breeding (Muslims in Europe, Hispanics in the United States). Beyond emotive arguments about community cohesion, it is not a good idea to have the source of babies skewered from one segment of the population, especially the bottom; if there is extensive state intervention there is the risk of intergenerational welfare dependency, while insufficient state intervention (eg: a lack of free education) can entrench these groups in poverty.

    The best solutions involve helping working mothers balance their employment and family commitments, such as by providing maternity leave. Singapore seeks to solve the problem by a government-run matchmaking service - the SDU (Social Development Unit), but judging by the vernacular definition of SDU (single, desperate and ugly), for many young Singaporeans it is not a serious option.

    If you are a member of Generation X, ask yourself how many ex-classmates have kids.

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