I was wondering why so many TV adverts were about aids for… ehm… erectile dysfunction.
Now we all know the answer:
Fertility rate in England/Wales down to about 1..5 – lower than pandemic and almost certainly lowest since records began (and before..) pic.twitter.com/u9M2mO7ktt
— Jonathan Portes (@jdportes) August 17, 2023
According to the accompanying article in Byline Times (from 2021 but still relevant today),
Not only have there have been major cuts to the benefit system in the 2010s but they have been targeted particularly at low-income families with children. The benefit freeze, cuts to housing benefit, and most of all the two-child limit [on child benefit] all impact such families disproportionately. Analysis by Howard Reed and myself for the Equality and Human Rights Commission suggests that the overall impact of changes to the tax and benefit system costs poor families an average of about £5,000 a year, about a fifth of their total income. On top of that, cuts to local authority funding have disproportionately fallen on Sure Start and other children’s’ services.
Developments in the labour and housing markets following the financial crisis have exacerbated these pressures. The combination of high and rising house prices – again, driven in part by government policies like Help to Buy – with stagnant real wages has made it much harder for lower and middle-income young couples to buy a house unless they get significant financial support from their parents. That in turn – given the UK’s cultural norms about homeownership and the nuclear family – makes starting a family much harder. And while the UK has made huge strides towards gender equity in the workplace, there is still a very large “child penalty” for mothers – but not for fathers. Unsurprisingly, an increasingly well-educated generation of women is unwilling to accept this.
Much attention has – rightly – been paid to the analysis of Sir Michael Marmot and others, which has demonstrated the connection between austerity and a general slowdown in the rate at which life expectancy is growing – with actual falls for some low-income groups. But it looks increasingly plausible that austerity has equally had an impact at the other end of the life course: not just shorter lives, but fewer babies.
So we’re not having children because the government has made it practically impossible to raise them (and, looking at the education system, impossible to ensure that they have all the opportunities they should be able to take).
As the article predicts, this will have serious detrimental effects on the nation’s future prosperity.
It seems the Tories are determined to wreck everything they can affect – and that even includes our sex lives.
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