Online parenting community, MummyPages.ie, has identified a significant link between the number of births in the State and the economy’s highs and lows.
An analysis of figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveals a recurring trend in the birth rate that can be linked with the county’s economic performance over the last four decades.
The link was first seen in the 1980s, one of the bleakest periods in the State’s history with high taxation, high unemployment and mass emigration.
In 1980, 74,064 children were born, one of the highest birth rates ever recorded and comparable only to the country’s next peak recession year — 2009, when 75,554 children were born.
It now looks like the birth rate trend is about to turn full circle again.
During the Celtic Tiger years, the birth rate fell. At just 48,255 in 1994, it was at the lowest level recorded that century.
At the start of the downturn in 2007, 71,389 babies were born.
The number of births continued to escalate during the recession
In 2009, as the recession peaked, there were 75,554 births, the highest figure recorded since 1891.
In September 2013, Ireland officially exited the recession as the CSO recorded growth in the economy. It was also reflected in a slowing birth rate, with 68,930 births during the year.
Mum-in-residence at MummyPages, Laura Haugh, said they expected the country’s birth rate to continue to decrease and stabilise at pre-boom time figures.
“Of course, another contributory factor is the mass emigration of young people. Over the last five years, over 150,000 people aged 18-40 have gone abroad in search of better job opportunities.
“Many Irish emigrants in recent years decided to start their families abroad instead of waiting for the economy to improve back home, said Ms Haugh.
“If our young expatriates decide to return home, enticed by the green shoots of economic recovery, this could trigger a mini ‘child boom’ rather than a ‘baby boom’ as they return with a young family in tow.”
Ms Haugh said many women graduates were investing time in building a career in Ireland and putting children on the long finger. The website’s community of mums reflect the same thinking, with many choosing to prioritise new job opportunities over adding to their existing family.
Ms Haugh said a lack of flexibility towards working mothers in Ireland, combined with the lack of child care tax breaks or subsidies, meant many women must choose having a career over adding to their family.