More Babies in New Zealand too

And again just after the government introduced financial incentives to parenthood -- those coincidences sure do keep piling up! See my post of 17th for the Australian case

"A slight increase in New Zealand's birthrate over the past year is not enough to stave off looming problems from an ageing population, says a demographics experts. According to figures released by Statistics New Zealand today, there were nearly 58,000 lives births registered in the year to September 2005 - a four-year high.

Some commentators have credited the introduction of paid parental leave for the increase, from 54,000 in June 2002, when the legislation was introduced, to 57,620 in 2005. However, Professor Ian Pool, from the Population Studies Centre at the University of Waikato, said he would be "very wary" about making the connection. While paid parental leave might have had some effect, more family friendly legislation was needed to ensure New Zealand remained viable as a society. The increase was in fact part of "an ongoing trend" for women to defer motherhood until later in life - but this would soon result in declining birth rates again, he said.

Birth rates fell throughout the 1990s from 60,000 to 56,000, hitting the 15-year low of 54,000 in 2002, and increasing since then.... At present, New Zealand's birth rate is about 2.0 births per woman, which is slightly below the level required for a population to replace itself without migration (2.1 births per woman). So called "sub-replacement fertility" is common among developed countries, including Australia (1.8 births per woman) and England and Wales (1.7). In the September 2005 year, women aged 30-34 had the highest fertility rate (119 births per 1000 women), up from 105 births per 1000 in 1995.

Prof Pool said while he welcomed the introduction of paid parental leave, New Zealand was still lagging behind the rest of the developed world when it came to legislation supporting families. "No single measure is going to work on its own," he said. In France, across-the-board initiatives, including subsidised childcare, housing support and universal family benefits, have helped ensure that France's birth rate has stayed relatively steady since the late 1970s, while Britain's has continued to go down....."

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