A falling birth rate amidst a pandemic leaves policymakers worried about the country’s future economic well being.
In 2014, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts blamed teetotal Muslims for the decline of pubs around the country.
The rising Muslim population in Britain, which Lord Hodgson describes as “socio-economic factors” in disdain, were altering what the country’s streets looked like.
Now Lord Hodgson is proposing a private bill in the House of Lords, the upper house of the British Parliament, that calls on the government to set up the ‘Office for Demographic Change Bill.’
2M UK citizens will contract #COVID19 this summer— Lloyd Hardy (@lloydhardy) July 7, 2021
..because Darren Grimes and Conservative landlords don't want us to #WearAMask
Population control? Kill the old and vulnerable? Damage the #NHS? More #PPEContracts? For landlords rent? To distract?
So many reasons pic.twitter.com/6Hwu5xPu5P
It would, among other things, look at “analysing the impact of population change, and considering future changes in the population of the United Kingdom and their consequences.”
Some have vowed that the proposed legislation, which is far off from being enacted into law, should be “opposed” considering the implied racially charged undertone of the bill.
More broadly, there is another growing demographic crisis in the UK that has some worried.
British birth rates have been declining over the last couple of decades but have now been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Economic and Social Research Council recently published a report looking at trends in the population change in the country, and it found that the decline over the next three years would lead to “significantly fewer births annually compared to the pre-pandemic period.”
In order for a country to hold a steady population, it needs a birth rate of 2.1 babies per woman. In England and Wales, that number had fallen to 1.6 in 2020. Research now suggests the numbers could fall even further to 1.45 by 2023.
According to the latest research, numbers would still decline to around 1.53 even in the best-case scenario.
Younger people are increasingly insecure about their future and are anxious about the future, given the potential financial cost that having a child would entail.
According to some, as many as 100,000 women in the UK are not satisfied with the number of kids they have.
The UK government expects that by 2050 more than 30 percent of the population will be over 60, placing a greater burden on the economy as the elderly are more likely to need medical assistance as well as drawing pensions.
“Europe needs hope if it wants to put an end to the demographic winter, which is not primarily the result of an economic or social crisis, but of the weakening of hope and the authentic meaning of life and existence,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin said. https://t.co/M8zYyhVw0Z— Catholic World Report (@cworldreport) July 5, 2021
A decline in birthrates, warns the latest report, would see fewer people paying taxes and a smaller revenue base for the country supporting a greater portion of the population.
Researchers also found that the great financial crisis of 2008 had already impacted birth rates amongst young people.
“Historical evidence of fertility rates following the 2008 recession from other Northern and Western European countries suggests that it is young people who are most likely to see a decline in rates of childbearing, as births are postponed to later ages,” the report concluded.
Against the bleak backdrop, some have proposed the rollout of free nursery education, children’s centres and trust funds for babies would alleviate some of the financial pressure amongst parents looking to start families.
Countries like Russia, Japan, Italy, China and Spain have all struggled to contend with falling populations and, in some instances, could see their populations halve by the end of this century.
The impact of Covid-19 has only deepened some of these demographic challenges for the UK, which it will have to live with long into the future.
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