The UK is facing a “baby shortage”, with fertility rates dropping to nearly half those seen in the Post-War Boom, raising concerns over potential “long-term” economic stagnation.
A report from Social Market Foundation (SMF) found that in 2020, the total fertility rate (TFR) – the number of children per woman – stood at 1.58 in England and Wales, nearly half of the peak following the Second World War of 2.93. Scotland saw the sharpest decline, with a fertility rate of 1.29.
The report cited statistics from the OECD, which estimated that “typical British working parents” spend 22% of their income on full-time childcare, more than double the average rate for Western economies.
“That might mean that there is more scope for the government to influence birth rates through childcare policy in the UK than in other parts of the world starting from a better position on childcare costs,” the paper says.
The SMF also noted that 28 per cent of countries throughout the world have enacted “pro-natal” policies to increase their fertility rates.
The chief economist at the SMF, Aveek Bhattacharya said: “Many other liberal democracies are exploring the use of policies like cash payments to parents, more generous parental leave and cheaper childcare to make it easier for those that want children to have them. Here in the UK, we should consider the merit of these policies– not least because they would bring many other benefits to parents, children and wider society.”
Countries such as Poland and France were highlighted in the report for their support of families. France offers a “birth grant” of €950 per child, while Poland’s ‘500+’ initiative sees parents receive 500 zloty (£100) per month for every child.
The British government on the other hand has enacted a series of anti-family measures since the 1970s, intended to increase female participation in the workforce at the expense of raising families.
Rather than taxing families as a whole, the UK levies tax against individual earnings, meaning that families dependant on a single income of £50,000 will take home less money than two salaries of £25,000, actively discouraging traditional families through punitive taxes.
The result of this policy, among other factors, has seen women become the majority of new entrants into the British workforce, significantly impacting marriage, birth, and fertility rates in the country.
Middle-class families are also denied access to marriage allowances, which are reserved for lower-income earners, thereby forcing millions of women into a situation in which they have to work to provide for their families, instead of being able to stay at home and raise their children if they want to.
Speaking to Breitbart London last year, housewife and founder of a homemaker support group Alena Pettitt said that the government’s attempts to get “economically inactive” Britons, including approximately 2 million housewives, into the workforce was “almost communist” in nature, saying that many mothers didn’t have children in order to immediately “hand them over to the state”.
Instead of incentivising families to counter population declines, the British government mitigates the effects through the importation of millions of migrants into the country, and has done so for decades.
The scale of mass migration to Britain over the past twenty years has resulted in the foreign-born population hitting nine million and pushing the ethnic minority population to 13 million, which the Migration Watch UK think tank has warned could lead to a breakdown of social cohesion.
While the SMF said that it has supported “liberal immigration policies and continues to do so,” it said that it will not be enough to address the falling birth rate anyway, saying: “Liberal immigration policies may not help if population is declining elsewhere in the world.”
In contrast to the UK’s mass migration approach, Hungary has successfully increased its marriage and birth rates through economic incentives for mothers, including lifetime tax-exempt status for women who raise four or more children.
Speaking at the Bled Strategy Forum in Slovenia earlier this month, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán argued that mass migration was not an answer to demographic challenges as the importation of migrants would damage the Christian cultural identity of his country.
“What we need is not newcomers instead of our own people originally living here, because it’s just a mathematic approach. If we invite others from outside Europe that will change the cultural identity of Europe.
“There are some countries that accept it but Hungary is not among those countries. We would not like to change the cultural identity of our country so we don’t accept migration as a solution to demographic politics or demographic challenges.”
Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka