Saturday, 6 November 2010

Saturday Photo: Smiles of a Tiny Perfect Baby, Who's Part of a Mini-Baby Boom

Jeanne is 10 weeks old now, and I think I've been very restrained. Haven't talked about her very much, but this week I can't resist. She is smiling and babbling and Elin says she's just discovered her hands. It just gets more and more interesting!

Also interesting is the fact that she seems to be part of a mini-baby boom in Quebec. La Presse this week had a story about the way that the province's measures aimed at encouraging having children are working. Quebec had a very high birth rate for several centuries, but that dropped from the highest in Canada in 1951 to the lowest in 1971. In recent years, the fertility rate (the number of babies a woman has in her lifetime) has been well below replacement of about 2.1, reaching a low of 1.45 babies per woman in 2002.

But it looks like family-friendly policies, like $7 a day child care and more generous parental leave packages, have resulted in a sharp jump in births. In 2000 72,000 babies were born in Quebec, compared to 88,600 in 2009, bring the fertility rate up to 1.731.

The La Presse story features the Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital where our Jeanne was born. Its obstetrical unit was designed for 2,300 births per year, but in recent years between 2,600 and 2,900 babies have been born there. Same thing in most other hospitals, the story says.

Will this last? Certainly, fertility rates drop wherever families can expect to raise two children to adulthood, even without coercion from governments. Educate women, allow contraception, provide clean water, childhood immunization, and a semblance of civil society, and people choose to have far fewer children. And that is all to the good for the fate of the planet.

But I'd sort of like to see the fertility in our immediate family continue to increase. Would be nice for Jeanne to have siblings and more cousins too, when Lukas and Sophie are ready, says Grandma Mary.

1 comment:

Martin Langeland said...

"But no pushing, dears! You know Grandma and Grandpa would never do that."(/tongue in cheek)