Baby boom

Britain has registered its highest birth rate in 40 years. This is good news

Written by The Indian Express | Published:August 12, 2013 12:22 am

Britain has registered its highest birth rate in 40 years. This is good news

According to the Office for National Statistics,Britain’s new prince may have come along at a time when fertility in the country is increasing after decades of decline. Britain is in the midst of a baby boom. In 2012,it registered its largest number of births in 40 years,making it the EU’s fastest-growing country,in terms of population. Birth rates have risen since the 2008 financial crisis,in contrast to other European nations like Germany,Spain and Italy,which have seen birth rates fall,adding to their economic woes.

Indeed,fertility rates across Europe declined year-on-year between the post-World War II baby boom and the end of the 1990s,dropping below the “replacement rate”,or the number of births per woman needed to maintain current population levels. The UK was no exception — until a few years ago. Low birth rates are a problem because countries end up with rapidly ageing populations that need healthcare and pensions,without the buffer of a sufficiently large young working population to provide support. A decline in working population raises large fiscal questions,which countries like Germany,Japan and,soon,China will have to grapple with. For instance: will there be enough workers to generate the growth needed to service government debt?

Part of the reason why India’s economic prospects are still considered bright is the demographic dividend that is expected to pay off in coming decades,especially as China faces the consequences of its one-child policy. In much the same way,if the UK is able to add to a dynamic,growing population,it is likely to have an edge over European competitors. Yet,both India and the UK must invest in the future,particularly in terms of education,if they are to reap the benefits of a young population.

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