Parenting loses its appeal for new generations

Parenthood is losing appeal for younger generations - Newsreel
New OECD data shows that parenthood is declining and many young people are happy never to have children. | Photo: People Images (iStock)

The global fertility rate has dropped below population “replacement level” and the average age for women to give birth has edged above 30.

The trend has been linked to growing economic insecurities among young people and new generations not regarding parenting as a vital ingredient of life.

The latest OECD Society at a Glance report said the fertility rate (average number of children born to each woman) hit 1.5 in 2022.

This was less than half of the 3.3 rate in 1960. During this period, the Australian fertility rate fell from 3.3 to 1.6. The fertility rate is now below the population replacement level of 2.1.

“This decline will change the face of societies, communities and families and will potentially have a significant impact on economic growth and prosperity,” the OECD report said.

“Births increasingly occur at later ages, with an average age of 30.9 in 2022, compared to 28.6 in 2000.

“At the same time childlessness is rising, and around one in four women born in the 1975 cohort in Italy and Spain was permanently childless. In Japan it was 28 percent.

“The share of third born (or higher order) children is around 20 percent of all births but subject to large variation across countries.”

The report said the long-term decline in the fertility rate stopped temporarily during the 2000s, but resumed again after the global financial crisis of 2007-08.

It said that the decline was due to a number of factors including increased economic insecurity among young people.

Across the OECD, large percentages of people in their twenties still lived with their parents.

This was 42 percent in Australia but as high as 80 percent in Korea and Italy. Across the OECD between 34 percent and 81 percent of young people were concerned about their job security.

“Personal choices on having a child depend on a wide range of factors such as economic and financial security, the costs of raising children, social norms, personal and medical conditions, labour market conditions and the family policy environment,” the OECD said.

“Over the past decades, many of these factors have changed. Young people find it more difficult to become financially independent and establish themselves in labour and housing markets.

“A succession of global crises (e.g. COVID-19, climate issues concerns, the cost-of-living crisis) has increased (economic) insecurities among younger people, which complicates their transition into parenthood.

“Young people increasingly find meaning in life outside of parenthood, and there appears to be increased acceptance of not having children.”