How many times we heard it and read about it. The number of those choosing to have kids is steadily decreasing, people are getting older and the generational pact has started to shake. By now most people are aware of the fact that we are decidin to have children too late in life, and way too few. What has been highlighted by a new research carried out in 19 countries from all continents, however, is that we increasingly tend to have less kids than what we would like to. In more than half of the countries involved in the study, people end up not having many kids despite hoping for a large family.
In Russia, Greece and Spain, the idea of perfect family envisions an average of 2.3, 2.6 and 2.4 kids respectively. In Italy the demographic drops to 1.7, well under expectations. In some African countries such as Nigeria, with larger families where children often work in order to contribute to the support of the whole family, demographics need to take into account urbanization processes and those macro-economic changes that lead to a reduction in the number of newborns. Families are forced to adapt to new economic landscapes, change their work strategy and embrace different models. Seven offsprings in a rural environment are an asset, but they turn into a financial problem when families are somehow forced to relocate from the countryside to a urban context.
Family planning is no longer associated with the problem of accessing reliable contraceptive methods like it used to be in the 1960s. Today the use of contraceptives is common practice all across the globe, it has overcome social and religious stigmas in most countries, it’s no longer a taboo. When we talk about family planning today, we refer to the problem of filling in empty cots, of having the children we are longing for, rather than avoiding unwanted pregnancies. The issue of lack of contraceptive methods has been replaced with the one of infertility. Family planning clinics specialised in helping couples conceive have been mushrooming all over the world, and not having kids is a major cause of depression and despair. Infertility is often accompanied by being incapable of imagining a better future and not having enough children or not as many as one would like to is turning into a huge issue on both an economic and psychological level.
A prolonged financial crisis such as the one experienced by Greece, for instance, has deeply undermined the trust in what the future might bring, young couples are afraid of not being able to cope the costs of looking after and educating a child. And an economic landscape suggesting that the lack of employment opportunities will result in you having to provide for your children until they are in their thirties, certainly doesn’t help. All continents share this same problem, and it’s quite surprising to notice that in Asian countries the number of kids families wish for is now lower than that expected from European countries, despite the end of China’s single-child policy. In short, it means that soon India will have to deal with a shortage of newborns. The good news is that regardless of shifting economic paradigms and endless financial challenges, we still hope to have more children, and with them a better future.