So… Having a third child is “worse than having a patio heater“, is it? In an age when this country’s birthrate is dropping rapidly and where the under eighteens are outnumbered by the over sixties for the first time it seems to be to be highly disingenuous to suggest that population growth is a problem in the UK. In fact, much opinion suggests that exactly the opposite is the case.
Not only are many couples opting to have either no children or only one child, we are also having our children much later in life. These two factors combine to cause a genuine risk of Britain not even achieving the “lowest low” (a birthrate of ~1.3, where population halves in 45 years and the decline becomes unrecoverable) let alone the “replacement rate” of 2.1. Countries like Japan, South Korea, Italy, Spain and Greece are already below 1.3, while the UK is at 1.65 and falling.
I may be biased (Claire is expecting our third child in January), but I can’t help feeling that a country at least maintaining its replacement rate can’t be anything but healthy. I can’t even persuade myself that this is controversial view, surely?
This article on the topic of birthrate at the New York Times is long (10 pages), but well worth the read if you’ve got 5 minutes.