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Governments influencing when Canadians have children: study

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Summary

The study looked at fertility rates from 2000-2017

The study warns that these policies could change demographics in the future

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Government policies could be having a profound effect on when Canadians are having children.

That is among the findings of a new study examining social policy trends from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy.

The report looks at fertility rates in Canada over a 17-year period from 2000-2017.

While birth rates haven’t changed much from province to province, the timing has shifted: Canadians are having children later in life.

Researcher Ron Kneebone said public policies are part of the reason behind the change.

For example, teenage pregnancy rates were cut nearly in half during that time.

Kneebone said that coincides with changes to the sexual education curriculum.

“Decisions about adding sex education in schools may also play a role. I think that might be important explaining the dramatic fall in fertility rates for young women aged 15-19.”

The report also found housing costs and parental leave policies are causing some Canadians to put off having children.

“Higher housing costs are causing women to delay having children so they can earn more income and pay for that down payment that is so hard to get these days,” said Kneebone.

With the exception of New Brunswick, fertility rates for women under the age of 30, fell in every province during that time.

Kneebone said expanded parental leave is also a factor.

“In 2000, the (federal) government increased parental leave provisions and that made it (financially) easier for women to have children, especially those who have already established their careers. Women aged over 30 are choosing to have more children than before.”

In fact, the birth rate from women in their thirties went up by 60 per cent during that time.

Kneebone said government policymakers should be aware of the implications these policies have because it will have a significant impact on future demographics which could change Canada’s tax base.

He pointed to the baby boomer generation as an example.

“In decades to come, we will have fewer people with jobs supporting more people without jobs. So what we might expect is people that do have jobs are going to have to pay higher taxes in order to fund the services that are demanded by the retirees.”