There’s been a dramatic baby boom during the last decade, and leading experts have speculated that Tony Blair is the cause.
Not literally of course, but according to a new report, there was a sudden rise in Britain’s fertility rate during the years when Blair was in power.
In the mid-1960s the average number of children per woman was 2.9; fertility rates then plummeted thanks to the availability of the contraceptive pill. The rate stuck well below the 2.1 children per woman needed to replace the population for 25 years. In 2001 the average number of kids was 1.64, but by 2008 it was up to 1.97.
The report from the think-tank Rand Europe says while immigration has had an impact on the birth rate (number of babies), it has not had any significant impact on the fertility rate (number of babies per mum).
Instead, the report concludes that New Labour’s working family tax credits (WTFC) and commitment to eradicate child poverty did seem to have a significant impact on people’s decision to have more babies.
One study found that WTFC payments increased the fertility of women in couples by 10%, because mums were staying at home and having another baby.
As the researchers put it, “in attempting to improve the quality of children’s lives, the policies are likely to have had the unintended effect of increasing the quantity of children born”.