There’s been a bit of discussion of fertility issues in comments threads. Rather than present a view of my own, which I’m still refining, I’ll point readers to a paper by coming out of the Monash Uni Centre for Population and Urban Research, and commissioned by the Australian Family Association. Here’s the blurb. As I read it, the central theme is a causal chain from economic reform to less secure employment for men with low education to low rates of partnering to lower fertility. The paper gives some good evidence on the later links in the chain, while assuming the earler ones. I don’t have a problem with this, since I think it’s clear that there has been a general increase in economic insecurity, though it rises and falls over the economic cycle.
I’m less concerned than the authors, and some commentators on this blog, about declining aggregate fertility levels. But I think the study makes a strong case that economic insecurity is producing a society in which central life goals like having a family are out of reach for (or at least not attained by) an increasing proportion of the population.
fn1. The AFA is a socially conservative lobby group, which is very concerned about things like cloning and the “gay agenda”. As with all such groups, it’s necessary to apply an appropriate level of scepticism. But in my reading of the Monash study, I haven’t noticed any obvious signs that the research has been slanted to fit a particular agenda.