European Countries Have Underpopulation Problems Because of Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 6, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

European Countries Have Underpopulation Problems Because of Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 6
, 2006

Brussels, Belgium ( — Thanks to the legalization of abortion, most nations in Europe are experiencing severe underpopulation problems and have such low birth rates that they will have a difficult in replacing their current populations. Had abortion not been legal, the nations likely wouldn’t have had the same issues.

A new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that all European nations recorded birth rates of more than 1.3 children per woman in 1990.

But, by 2002, 15 counties had rates below 1.3 children per woman, and six countries had rates between 1.3 and 1.4 children per woman. A rate of 2.1 is needed to maintain a population.

Ireland, one of the few European nations where abortion is illegal, has the highest fertility rate of any European nation. Portugal, which also prohibits abortion, is in the top half and Malta, another pro-life nation, is in the middle of the list of counties.

"If you have a fertility rate of 1.2 or 1.3 you need to do something about it — it’s really quite a problem,” Tomas Sobotka of the Vienna Institute of Demography told the New York Times. “You have labor problems, economic problems and steep rates of population decline.”

The nations with the worst problems, according to the report, are those eastern European countries where abortion has been used as a method of birth control.

The Times indicated that, in addition to abortion, the increasing age of when women have their first child is contributing to the underpopulation problems. In the last 20 years the age has moved upwards from the early 20s to 30.

The Times also reports that many nations are not offering enough maternity leave in terms of the length of the leave and the money women are paid during it. That has caused some women to put off having children until later in their careers.

The underpopulation issues mean that European nations will experience severe worker shortages with a loss of 20 million workers by the year 2030 if the current birth rate continues.

Jitka Rychtarikova, a professor of demographics at Charles University in the Czech Republic, told the Times that abortion "has turned childbearing into a choice rather than an act of nature" which has warper the normal birth rates that typically sustain nations.

Though some nations are looking to boost maternity leave benefits, or reward larger families in other ways, none appear to be considering reversing abortion laws in an attempt to overcome the problems.