Britain’s birth rates are plunging. The number of babies being born has been in steep decline since 2017. Now, researchers are investigating early signs that the pandemic may have caused rates to drop even further. This is not totally surprising given the difficult economic conditions that have come with the pandemic – history also shows that economic uncertainty has long been associated with reduced birth rates. The birth rate in the UK has been declining year on year since 2013 and has been linked to the austerity measures implemented by the government in response to the 2008 global financial crisis. Austerity cuts have decimated social care, welfare and local government. They have led to rising rents (private rents increased by 24% between 2010 to 2017), shrinking social housing stock, adults living or moving back home with parents, along with more people precariously employed, due to insecure forms of work and retreating state support. Such inequalities have seeped into the fabric of everyday life. And these austerity measures have been particularly acute for young people growing up over the past ten years.
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