Brexit blamed for Britain’s declining birth rate

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By Creative Media News

  • Brexit linked to UK’s fertility rate decline
  • OECD suggests Euroscepticism impacts birth rates
  • Political polarization may deter young parents

A renowned European think tank claims that Brexit may have exacerbated Britain’s decreasing fertility rate.

According to research by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), ‘Euroscepticism’ contributes to the UK’s recent decline.

However, an expert speaking at the launch of the Society at a Glance document went a step further last week (JUN 20), stating that Brexit could lead to young couples choosing not to have children.

The report stated that the total fertility rate (TFR) in OECD countries had been more than halved on average since the 1960s.

In 1960, women gave birth to an average of 3.3 children, which decreased to 1.5 children by 2022.

According to the most recent OECD data, the UK was slightly above average in terms of dropping fertility rates, with British women having 2.7 children in 1960 and 1.5 children in 2021.

When asked if fertility was linked to political developments, Brexit was used as an example of why younger couples may opt not to have children.

Tomas Sobotka, a researcher based in Vienna, told the assembly: “I would like to mention one factor, which is political polarisation in some countries, very polarised political discourses, where often the generation may feel left out of politics or that politics does not reflect their views and needs.

One example may be Brexit in the UK, which was politically supported strongly by the 50-plus generations, whilst young adults had radically different opinions and preferences on the subject.

The UK’s fertility reduction was significantly lower than other top nations, including numerous G7 leaders in Italy, Japan, Canada, and Germany.

The report’s authors argued in their section on perceived uncertainties that could affect fertility, such as ‘xenophobic attitudes’ and ‘the rise of populism’, which could impact fertility rates.

According to the survey, concerns about the future extend beyond the economic consequences of the 2008 recession and include xenophobic sentiments to the immigrant crisis in 2015.

Euroscepticism, the rise of populism, and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine all contribute to a sense of uncertainty and unpredictability that prospective parents experience when determining whether to have another child.

According to the Office for National Statistics, which collects and analyses data on the UK’s Society and people, the TFR has declined since 2010.

TFR calculates the number of children a hypothetical cohort of women can anticipate having at the end of their reproductive cycle.

The comments were condemned last night for attempting to raise issues regarding the UK’s decision to exit the EU.

Reform MP Lee Anderson stated, ‘Blame everything on Brexit. England played poorly last night; blame it on Brexit as well.

‘We’ve got one of the wettest years on record, which we can blame on Brexit. Tell you what, anything terrible that happens in Europe can be blamed on Brexit.

‘But, ironically, European countries are experiencing the same issues as ours; is this due to Brexit?

‘These people are simply grasping at straws. It would help if you treated what these folks say with scepticism.

‘They ought to be carted off somewhere, put in a dark room, and listen to some whale music.

According to OECD sources, Mr Sobotka did not contribute to the report, although the writers cited his papers in the fertility chapter.

He was one of the independent specialists invited to the panel discussion; according to the source, Mr Sobotka is well-known in the sector.

Mr Sobotka later appeared to minimise his remarks, stating no data to support his speculation.

He stated, “I did not intend to imply that Brexit directly impacted fertility decisions.

‘I was using the Brexit scenario as an iconic illustration of political polarisation, in which political representation in many nations makes life-altering long-term decisions that are not in future generations’ interests (or voting).

‘These policy splits contribute to high discontent and pessimism about prospects among young adults in many nations today, which may hurt fertility.

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‘You’ll notice a lot of ‘ might’ and ‘ may’ in my writing because I don’t have enough data and evidence to show this link for individual countries or make an empirical judgement. Therefore, the inference is speculative.

Needless to say, my opinions do not represent those of the OECD. As an independent researcher, I was invited to comment on fertility trends and factors.

The OECD has previously been accused of predicting a bleak economic prognosis for the UK’s post-Brexit economy.

Days before the 2016 Brexit referendum, the OECD predicted that the UK’s economic growth would be 3% lower than if it remained in the EU, which equated to £2,200 less per family.

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