England, Wales: Fertility Rate Rises for First Time in a Decade

    Photo: Alamy [via The Guardian]

    The Facts

    • For the first time in 10 years, the total fertility rate in England and Wales increased year-on-year. The average grew from 1.58 babies per woman in 2020 to 1.61 in 2021, with the largest rise seen among women aged 35-39.

    • The total number of live births was up 1.8% from 2020 to 2021, with 624,828 births recorded in the latter year. The data falls short of the number of births registered in 2019, but exceeds that of 2015.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    Though only a slight increase, this is good news for the UK. With rapid fertility rate declines across the developed world, nations will soon face a global society with more grandparents than grandchildren, causing drastic social and economic consequences. More nations should work to raise rates or workforces will become too small to support the elderly.

    Narrative B

    Those sounding the alarm over declining birth rates are living in the past, and the myth that our workforce is at risk of losing strength needs to be dispelled. We no longer live in an economy dominated by manual labor that requires the participation of a young, physical population. The elderly can support the economy just as well as younger generations and rising birth rates will only exacerbate the climate crisis for all of us.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that the human population will peak at 10.5B before 2100, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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