People in Greece can’t afford to have more than one child, and many are opting to have none at all.
Fertility doctor Minas Mastrominas tells the New York Times that some women have decided not to conceive, and single-child parents have been asking him to destroy their remaining embryos.
After eight years of economic stagnation, they’re giving up on their dreams.
It isn’t just Greece suffering low birth rates. In fact the trend spreads to most of Europe, with Spain, Portugal and Italy also reporting dangerously low rates.
Why is this happening?
Unemployment continues to be a serious issue in Greece. Rates are slightly lower than in 2016 when they were 23.9 per cent, but are still very high at 23.5 per cent.
The slump has affected women more, with unemployment rates at 27 per cent compared to 20 per cent of men.
Child tax breaks and subsidies for large families have decreased, and the country stands at having to lowest budget in the EU for family and child benefits.
Women in the workforce.
During the height of the crisis, women postponed childbirth in favour of working. As the years dragged on, the rate of fertility decreased, making it biologically more difficult to conceive.
Additionally, gender equality came to a standstill, and many women of ‘childbearing age’ were denied employment, or had their contract changed to part time involuntarily, as soon as they got pregnant.
What is the impact of low birth rates?
One of the most prominent areas that will be detrimentally affected is pensions and the welfare system.
Additionally, according to Eurostat, such low birth rates – under 2.1 – could create a demographic disaster.
This will have a knock-on effect on pensions, with fewer young people working.
Reduced pensions for grandparents, who traditionally took care of the family’s children means that parents will have to reach into their dwindling budget in order to pay for child care.
All of these circumstances provides an unwelcoming environment for having children, creating a spiralling drop in birth rates.