New Zealand’s Fertility Rate hurtles towards a catastrophic low

pregnant woman embracing belly while standing in forest
Photo by Helena Lopes on

In November, Statistics New Zealand revealed the number of births for the year ended September 2020. There were 57,753 live births in that time period.

pregnant woman embracing belly while standing in forest

However, the decreasing Total Fertility Rate is troubling.

This rate is an average indicator of fertility showing the number of children a woman would have in her lifetime. For a nation to replace itself without any migration, the required minimum fertility rate is 2.1 children per woman.

Once a nation hits a fertility rate of 1.5, demographers warn a serious line is crossed. It is unlikely that a nation will ever recover from such a low fertility rate.

Right now, New Zealand’s Total Fertility Rate sits at 1.63 – catastrophically below replacement level.

New Zeaalnd’s fertility rate hit a high in 1961 with a total 4.3 births per woman.

Overall, the world fertility rate is declining. It currently sits at around 2.4 births per woman.

A study published in the Lancet in July 2020 suggests that global fertility rates will continue to decline. Population growth, the authors predict, will peak in 2064 at 9.73 billion, steadily declining to 8.79 billion in 2100.

The authors, whose study was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, stated that their “findings suggest that continued trends in female educational attainment and access to contraception will hasten declines in fertility and slow population growth.”

They noted that “economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical consequences” would be experienced by individual countries if fertility rates below replacement level continued over time.

Although contraceptive use was identified in the study as a cause of declining fertility rates, nations were urged in their policy making “to adapt to continued low fertility, while sustaining and enhancing female reproductive health.”

The term “reproductive health” encompasses the use of contraception, abortifacients, and induced abortion. Each of these drugs, devices and procedures, are designed to eliminate the conception, or the birth of already conceived child.

Encouraging women to continue these practices will further bring about the decline of populations, especially those of our Pacific neighbours. Declining populations will, as the study points out, have serious consequences for individual countries, and for the world.

It is vital that family-friendly governmental policies are put in place, alongside a change in attitude in society that sees children as a gift and not a burden, or worse yet, a right that is only accepted and cherished when it suits the individual.

A number of countries have fertility rates that have dipped below, or are sitting on, the warning line of 1.5. These include Canada (1.5), Italy (1.3), Hong Kong (1.1), and Singapore (1.1).

Typically African countries have an excellent fertility rate. For example Congo (5.9), Chad (5.7), and Guinea (4.7).

Pacific nations tend to have good fertility rates, for example Samoa (3.9), Vanuatu (3.8), and Kiribati (3.6). However, this is likely to change as population control groups and organisations such as NZ Family Planning work very hard to normalise contraception, abortifacients, and abortion in these family-orientated nations.

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