What have childcare and men doing housework got to do with fertility rates?

The results of the last census published last week show that there is a decline in birth rates but an increase in the ageing population. In fact, nearly 30% of births now in the UK are to mothers born overseas, so the situation could be even direr.


With the decrease in fertility and an increase in the ageing population comes the problem of who will look after the aged, who will pay for their pension and where will the new innovations that drive the economy come from? We are having a taste of labour shortages in the airline industry due to Covid, and we are all up in arms because our holidays have been disrupted. Think about what will happen, when there is a shortage of doctors and delivery drivers because there are just not enough people.


According to research, in developed countries, fertility rates are highest when women are best able to combine childcare with their careers and when men do their share of the housework. In other words, when women are creatively engaged in the economy, and it is not at the cost of their well-being or their kids, guess what? Fertility rates are higher as is the case in Norway.


Look at it from the other side, when there are fewer opportunities for women in the workplace and the men are not helping out at home, fertility rates are negatively impacted as is the case in Japan.


For me, even though the research is now showing that if we want to increase fertility rates, we have to support women, this was never rocket science. It was simple plain common sense.


Women make up 51% of the population. If it is just a pure numbers game, then the more people we have engaged in the economy, the greater the output, which means the more money we have to support our essential services like childcare.


Childcare is an essential service because it impacts the well-being of two important components of the population; the mothers and their children. A stressed-out mother will not be inclined to have another child and even when she has the inclination sometimes the body does not play ball because of the stress levels. The child of a stressed-out mother is a child paying a high emotional price for their existence. 


Why is this important? The child, if female, might decide that engaging in the workforce themselves as an adult is a high price to pay if they want children which then affects the economy. They could also decide to cut their losses and have the children but not stress themselves out by trying to have a career as well. This is a lose/lose situation for all involved.


Yet, the answer for all this again is not rocket science. Make childcare accessible to working mothers and build and cultivate a culture where men are respected for playing their part in the home. Do this and watch working mothers relax and feel supported and watch fertility rates soar.


Working mothers should not be made to pay a penalty for raising the next generation with their health and wellbeing. A generation of burnt-out working mothers is not good for the economy or fertility rates. There are a lot of smart politicians out there and I am still surprised that there are no decent policies in place to support working mothers.


I have always been on a mission to support working mothers to get them out of burnout which seems to be the default way of having a career and raising kids. While we wait for policies to catch up, there are a lot of things that can be done on the individual level to ensure you are not sacrificing your health to prop up your career and your family.


If you want to find out more, you can watch my free webinar here.