Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

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[BRIEF NOTE] Why are Canadian fertility rates so low?

The Winnipeg Sun is one paper of many that picks up on the fact that the main reason for Canada's declining fertility rate is the enfranchisement of women.

Carrie Werschler waited 36 years to have her first baby, a girl she named Morgan.

Her second baby, Lucas, was born a little more than five years later, when the St. Vital mom was 42 years old.

"My career was very important to me before and waiting to have my children put me in a better financial position to stay home," said Werschler.

Werschler is glad she travelled the world, developed a career and experienced many things as an adult before settling down with a baby.

"I think I have a lot of practical intelligence from my experience and have a lot to offer my children," she said.

The mature mom is among a growing population of women who are waiting longer before having their first baby.

In 2003, nearly one-half of the women in Canada who gave birth were age 30 or older, according to a recent Statistics Canada report.

This reinforces a long-term trend among Canadian women who are waiting longer to have their first baby.

The average age of first-time moms in Canada was 29.6 years in 2003. Two decades ago, the average age was 26.9 years.

CTV notes that, increasingly, people want to wait before they establish families of their own.

"Increasingly, people are waiting a few years before they make these big life altering changes," Bob Glossop the Vanier Institute of the Family told Canada AM.

"People want to feel relatively secure financially. They want to have a fair number of the sort of creature comforts that we associate with family life."

The study also found a slight gain in the fertility rate, though most families continue to remain much smaller than they were in our grandmothers' generation.

"In 2003, (the rate) increased slightly to 1.53 children per woman, up from 1.50 in 2002,'' the agency said. "The lowest fertility rate for Canada was set in 2000, at 1.49 children per woman.''

Nunavut continued to have the highest total fertility rate of any province or territory, at 3.1 children per woman, followed by the Northwest Territories, at 2.0 children per woman.

Newfoundland and Labrador recorded the lowest total fertility rate, 1.3 children per woman in 2003.

The total fertility rate estimates the average number of children that women aged 15 to 49 will have in their lifetime.

The lowest fertility rate in Canada was set in 2000, at 1.48 children per woman.

"The real significant consequence of this decision, this private decision taken in the bedrooms of the nation, as it were, is that if you wait until you're 30 to have your first child, you're not likely to have many. They don't have them any long to replace the population," says Glossop.

Glossop's last remark can be qualified by noting that new reproductive technologies could well extend the average reproductive lifetime, but his central points are unquestionable. People, especially women, only want to become parents when it's convenient for them. Hectoring people about their patriotic duty isn't going to do it.
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