Tracking Trends in Low Fertility Countries
"Over the long term, TFRs below 2.1 children per woman can eventually lead to population decline because couples are not replacing themselves in the population. Many European countries have been far below the 2.1 replacement level for years and some are experiencing population decline as a result."
"Many reasons are given for very low fertility and the causes certainly vary from country to country. The rise in living costs and the need for two-earner families play a large role, particularly where childcare needs of two-earner families have been neglected. Changing values that place more emphasis on consumer goods and travel play some role. In Eastern Europe, economic collapse following the breakup of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact in 1989 caused among the sharpest declines in TFRs."
"While countries certainly differ, the overall story seems to be the same. Countries whose policies recognize the need to accommodate two-earner families so that having a child is not an economic disaster appear to have had some success in raising TFRs. But the cooperation of society is also required. In Germany, it is often not socially acceptable to leave one’s child in someone else’s care the entire day; women who do are referred to as rabenmutter (raven mother). Such attitudes will have to change for Germany's fertility to increase significantly. In Japan, the cooperation of employers in lightening work schedules and introducing more flexibility as well as childcare has been mandated by the government. But even these measures can be overshadowed by recessions and a lack of confidence in the economic future."