Canada's fertility rate has hit a record low

Fertility rate hits record low

A new study from StatsCan reveals Canada's total fertility rate has hit a record low and the COVID-19 pandemic may have an impact.

In Canada in 2019, there were 372,038 live births, excluding Yukon. Out of these, 51.3 per cent were boys and 48.7 per cent were girls, which is similar to previous years.

New 2019 data takes a look at historical birth information dating back to 1959, which is one of the earliest years for comparable data on first-time mothers. 

For 2019, the total fertility rate (TFR) or number of children that a woman would have in her life declined to 1.47 births per woman, compared to 3.94 in 1959. Since 1971, Canada's TFR has been below 2.1 which is considered the replacement rate. This means there aren't enough babies being born for the current population to replace itself. As a result, Canada has relied on immigration to maintain its population.

As the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, its possible that it has impacted birth rates. If immigration levels decline, fertility rates become more vital for the population to be sustained.

The average age of first-time mothers has also increased. In 2019, women waited an additional six years compared to 60 years prior.

In 1959 the average age of a first-time mother was 23.2 but over the last six decades, the average age sits at 29.4 when looking at 2019. This trend is common in other countries as more women between the ages of 25 and 54 are pursuing careers and attending university. 

Data from the Labour Force Survey reveals 22 per cent of women were in the workforce in 1950 but in 2019, that number his 84 per cent. The amount of women with a university degree went from 14 per cent in 1990 to 40 per cent in 2019.

Distribution of births by a mother's age has also changed over the years and in the last 60 years, fertility rates in women younger than 25 have significantly decreased. 

Looking at 1959, women between 20 and 24 were most likely to have children with an age-specific TFR of 233.8 births per 1,000 women. In 2019, the TFR of this group is now at 31.8 births per 1,000 women.

In 1959, 45 per cent of first time mothers were between the ages of 20 and 24. In 2019, women between 30 and 34 were more likely to have a baby compared to any other age groups, making up the greatest percentage of first time mothers.

Older first time mothers are more than twice as likely to have twins or triplets. This is because as women get older, the chances of them having multiples increases.

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