Flexible work, studies partly behind Netherlands' declining birth rate
The fact that more women study and have flexible jobs partly contribute to the Netherlands' declining birth rate, according to a study by Statistics Netherlands (CBS). The number of children born in the country decreased by about 8 percent in eight years, from 184 thousand babies born in 2010 to 169 thousand in 2018. The average number of children born per woman decreased from 1.8 in 2010 to 1.6 in 2018 - the lowest level since 1997, NOS reports.
In its further study into the influence flexible contracts and studying has on the country's birth rate, CBS found that these two factors definitely have an impact, though to a limited extent. The financial insecurity that flexible work entails means that women are less likely to start a family. Students also mostly don't have the financial resources to care for a child, and women prefer to wait until after their studies to start a family as a degree is seen as an important condition for parenting, according to the stats office.
The overall effect of flex work and studies on the birth rate is "quite small", resulting in a drop of 0.021 children per woman. If the share of female flexible workers had not increased since 2010, over 1,600 more babies would have been born, according to the stats office. If the number of women who continued their education had not increased, 400 more babies would have been born.
CBS also noted that the decrease in birth is mainly seen in women under the age of 33, which could indicate that women are mainly postponing starting a family. So these figures do not show the whole story, Tanja Traag of Statistics Netherlands stressed. "There are many more reasons to choose to have children, or not. And often it is also a very emotional decision, which cannot always be captured in numbers," she said to NOS.