11 Jul 2013

Fewer babies born in Europe since start of financial crisis

11:38 am on 11 July 2013

A new study has found fewer babies have been born in Europe since the start of the financial crisis in 2008. However, Germany and Switzerland bucked that trend.

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research Germany found that the birth rate in 28 European countries dropped as unemployment rose.

People under 25 have been particularly affected, along with those living in southern European countries like Spain.

The BBC reports the relationship between the economy and fertility has long been discussed.

"The financial crisis hit Europe at a time when birth rates in many countries had just began rising again," said MPIDR demographer Michaela Kreyenfeld.

She said upward trends in some countries had come to a halt while in others, birth rates declined.

In Spain, the total fertility rate - the number of births per woman - fell nearly 8% between 2008 - 2011 as unemployment went from 8.3% to 11.3%.

A setback also occurred in Hungary, Ireland, Croatia and Latvia, the study said.

Formerly growing birth rates slowed in countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland and the United Kingdom.

But in Germany and Switzerland, where labour markets have weathered the crisis comparatively well, the BBC reports there was almost no change in the number of children born.

The study says a 1% increase in unemployment rates causes fertility to fall by nearly 0.2% among those aged 15 - 19 and 0.1% between 20 - 24.