Analysis Ricardo Ávila | Demographics, one more crisis: effects of the birth rate implosion on the economy

Analysis Ricardo Ávila | Demographics, one more crisis: effects of the birth rate implosion on the economy
Analysis Ricardo Ávila | Demographics, one more crisis: effects of the birth rate implosion on the economy

The OECD recently presented the results of a study, according to which the proportion of women of childbearing age, definitively without children, doubled in a good number of nations, compared to the previous generation.

(Read: Has demographic decline begun in Colombia?).

In several continents, including Latin America, this trend is not foreign, since single people and small families – of two or three members – are now the norm and not the exception. Even so, there are cases of cases and the Colombian falls into the category of the most extreme.

When three months ago the Dane reported that the number of births registered in Colombia had had an annual reduction of 11 percent in 2023the highest since there have been reliable statistics, numerous specialists were surprised by the magnitude of the drop.

(See: In 10 years, the average birth rate in Colombia has fallen more than 30%).

Now that feeling is back, after the entity reported on Friday that in the first four months of this year the decline is even greater, approaching 15 percent.

Between January and April, the total number of newborns in the country was 145,416 children, almost 25,000 less than during the same period of the previous calendar..

If the observed rate continues, by December the accumulated figure would be less than 450,000, a figure that is not far from that reported in 1952, when the country’s total population barely exceeded 12 million people. For decades the curve always pointed upward until reaching a peak of 752,000 births in 2000, according to Dane.

(Also: Pension reform: the good and the bad of the initiative that will transform the system).

Given these figures Ricardo Ávila, Senior Analyst of EL TIEMPO, He delved into the effects that this phenomenon can have on the economy and society.


Births

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For Ávila, one of the greatest impacts is in the growth of the economy itself, which is tied to the volume of the active population and the sustainability of the social security system and the State itself.

For his part, according to Jesús Fernández Villaverde, professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, Colombia “they have just approved a pension reform, which seems absolutely senseless to me because they are not going to have anyone to pay the monthly payments in the future”.

Clarifies that “It is not about the model, but about how many are going to make contributions in a nation that will proportionally have many older people and fewer people”.

(Also: In figures: this is the panorama of child labor in Colombia).

As if that were not enough, the arrival of the solidarity pillar that ensures an allowance for older adults can cause fertility to fall even further. That is a warning issued by Hernando Zuleta, dean of the Faculty of Economics at the Universidad de los Andes.

According to the expert, “the idea of ​​having children as an insurance mechanism in old age, which influences decisions about family size of informal workers and in general of those who saw a pension as distant, would be affected”. From that perspective, the new conditions would translate into an even lower birth rate than the current one.

And although there will be those who say that in the end there are too many Colombians in the world, a rational look shows a much more worrying panorama. Knowing for sure what is happening and how to stabilize the birth rate to avoid entering a vicious circle of crisis due to lack of people and opportunities should be part of the priorities of public policy.

Not in vain in Japan, Korea or Italy the issue reveals the rulers who think not about the next election, but about the next generation. It remains to be seen if here we will be able to react in time and act accordingly so that the population factor does not cost us a high bill. Because babies do not come from Paris nor are they brought by the stork.

If you want to read the full interview click here.

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