It would be naive to think social and economic decisions do not bear on the timing and numbers of births that couples choose, says Allan G Hill. Plus Roger Plenty points out that having one fewer child saves 58.6 of CO2-equivalent per year
Gaby Hinsliff (Journal, 3 August) is right to insist that the ultimate decision on numbers of children is in the hands of women and their partners but ignores the many ways that any modern state already makes so many of the rules regarding sex and reproduction. Just think of all the rights and allowances that determine the length of maternity leave, resuming work, flexible working, equal pay and the like. Then, there are decisions by states to subsidise or not the costs of childcare, including all the costs of education from pre-school to university and college. Throughout, there are rules and regulations about which maternity and childcare services are state- or authority-provided.
Couples reproduce in such economic and regulatory environments and it would be naive to think that such powerful social and economic decisions do not bear on the timing and numbers of births they choose. A declining population is not in anyone’s interest, reducing the pool of new talent in the next generation and encouraging an imbalance between those concerned with the cost of TV licences and others eager to see young innovators moving through our age cohorts.