Ireland’s “baby bust” continues despite its buoyant economy…

Never heard of this term before today, but Dan O’Brien explains in the Indo:

Over decades in Ireland, good economic times have made people more inclined to have kids. Slumps have done the opposite.

That was to be seen in 1980s, when the Irish birth rate very suddenly started to fall. That coincided with the beginning of miserable economic times.

The “long 1980s” only really ended with the arrival of the Celtic Tiger in the mid-1990s. The change in the country’s economic fortunes then led to an immediate and substantial change in baby numbers.

From 1995, the birth rate rose. Although it never recovered to the levels of the 1970s and before, the change coincided perfectly with the arrival of boom times. The rate continued to rise until 2008.

When the economic boom ended in tears, the baby boom went into reverse. Tougher times and greater uncertainty had, at the very least, some influence on people’s decisions to bring more children into the world.

But here’s what’s surprising: since the economy turned around in 2012-13, there has been no change in the downward trend in the birth rate.

In 2017, the last year for which figures are available, just under 13 babies were born for every 1,000 people living in the country. That was down by a fifth on 2008 and below the previous nadir of the mid-1990s.

From the limited data available on last year, it appears as if the decline continued into 2018, despite last year being the best for the economy in at least a decade.

Now I’m not sure we’ll see such wild swings in Northern Ireland, which is only a part-time member of the market economy, which for various reasons has not faced the cuts both London and Dublin imposed on public services.

Adds: Not so much, it seems (H/T Nevin):

But it does underline the point that the science of demography is not as linear as some of us like to suggest. However, Dan continues:

…despite this story of decline, the Irish still rank highly in European baby league tables. Ireland’s fertility rate – of 1.8 – was the third highest in 2016, just after France and Sweden.

This was quite a bit higher than less baby-inclined Mediterraneans – Greece (1.38), Italy (1.34) Portugal (1.36) and Spain (1.34). Fertility rates in other countries, such as Austria, Finland and Germany are not much higher. And unlike Ireland, these countries have had low levels of births for decades.

All of these rates are, however, below the so-called replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman which is needed to replace those who die.

That last being where migrant labour comes in. But please do read the whole thing.

Photo by Tim Bish is licensed under CC0

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