'Please Have Children,' an Expert Researcher Warns

2 ½ min

An expert New Zealand researcher is warning women to “please have children” as, mirroring other Western nations, New Zealand’s fertility rate reaches an all-time low. The country’s total fertility rate is now 1.71 children per woman, well below the population replacement level of 2.1.

Increasingly, greater numbers of researchers are acknowledging the grave problems associated with a society that delays having children and seemingly celebrates career milestones over marriage and parenthood.

It is likely that, for many couples, the increased cost of housing and food in New Zealand also plays a part in their decision about family size. The current global uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic could well now contribute too.

Dr. Pushpa Wood, who is the director of Massey University’s financial education and research centre, says that if the downwards trend continues New Zealand will be left with an aging population, more retired people needing care, and fewer people to care for them, with devastating impacts on the country.

A recent report from a New Zealand organization entitled “Families: Ever Fewer or No Children, How Worried Should We Be?“ also worries:

“Without population replacement or growth, economies decline. A nation’s strength lies in its young: their energy, innovation, risk-taking and entrepreneurship. The new blood drives the exchange of ideas and experimentation. If these attributes aren’t home-grown, they have to be imported. At an individual level, single person households are the fastest growing household type in New Zealand. Increasingly people face old-age with few or no family supports.”

As the working-age population reduces globally in the coming years, it will likely become untenable for New Zealand to simply rely on immigration. Wood suggests that the Government needs to take action by incentivizing people to have children. Measures could include increased parental leave, financial support for childcare, and initiatives such as the “baby box” which the Finnish Government provides to new mothers, and includes items such as clothes, sheets, and toys.

However, governmental incentives to have children do not appear to have made much of a difference to dire fertility rates overseas. Changing social trends likely have a far greater impact. If we want women to have babies, ultimately we need to value parenthood, family and the important role of a homemaker, no matter what other roles it might, or might not, be balanced with.


This article has been republished under a Creative Commons license from Mercator Net.

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Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts is co-editor of Demography Is Destiny, MercatorNet's blog on population issues.

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Infinite population growth on a finite planet? Even though we're already overpopulated, polluting and stripping our planet bare? How short-sighted is our species, anyway? If infinite growth, which is impossible, is the only way to maintain our arbitrary societal setup... then our societies aren't going to last long anyway. Adding even more unwanted children to our already overpopulated world is the last thing anybody should want.


New Zealand presently has 4.8 million people. Projected to be 6 M in the year 2100(world Hardly a population crash. Countries should develop a desired high and low for their population and stay between those numbers. If you like water, a variety of species, and a stable climate, we need fewer people not more.
Rowana F
Having enough children to "sustain" a population is not the same thing as "increasing" the population. Does the article itself not make that clear? Oh yes, if people stop having children (or too few children to even sustain a society), that will indeed shrink the population -- while it creates a living situation that will be a thorough misery for everyone for the next several generations.
Rowana F
What amazes and alarms me is that these social and economic consequences of a too-low birth rate are not rocket science or brain surgery to figure out, and yet for the past 20 or 30 years just about every Western nation has been watching their birth rate drop lower and lower, while doing nothing to encourage marriage and children and a lot to discourage. Yet only recently have researchers begun sounding the alarm? I'm not sure there is a Western nation remaining that is not paying the price for a too-low birth rate for at least these past 20 years, maybe longer. These researchers are sounding the alarm awfully late!


There are other facets to declining birth rates. What about abortions? What about the lifestyles of Gay couples where having children is an issue or impossible? What about the Transgender explosion that creates a pseudo male or pseudo female on an infertile body with opposite DNA throughout that body? These individuals can not produce young thereby reducing the birthrate throughout our World! It isn't astounding the birthrate in our World is falling! Humans made non-life choices... & lost.
Rowana F
Abortion has certainly been a large factor for the last several decades, as well as people having themselves sterilized to avoid the possibility of children. The other facets you mention certainly do contribute, though so far probably not in significantly large numbers compared to abortion and self sterilization.