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6 Pro-natalism and anti-natalism

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Figure 18

So how do countries respond to choices made by individuals?

There are a range of ‘pro-natalist’ (encouraging and supporting of increasing the birth rate) or ‘anti-natalist’ (discouraging and unsupportive of increasing the birth rate) approaches. Some countries, such as Sweden are pro-natalist and aim to demonstrate that social changes, which have resulted in their very high levels of female employment, are not incompatible with birth rates above the European average. Other countries, such as Russia, adopt pro-natalist policies to address low fertility rates, high mortality rates and stagnant immigration that has resulted in a shrinking population.

In the world’s biggest economy, the US, there is a more neutral approach as it has a relatively robust fertility rate and, as it is a country still immigration friendly, it is likely to avoid the low fertility and aging issues now unfolding in Europe (more in Week 4).

In contrast a few decades ago, China and India decided to pursue aggressive anti-natalist population control measures in response to projected population growth.

In the next section, you will hear about the reasons behind China’s one child anti-natalist policies.