Canadian Fertility Trends and Policies: A Story of Regional Variation
Fertility in Canada has been declining since the peak of the baby boom in the late 1950s. The period total fertility rate (TFR) was almost 4.00 births per woman in 1959, reached a low of 1.51 in 2000, and currently stands at 1.61. The decline was greatest during the 1960s and then slowed considerably, and Canada’s TFR has been fairly stable since the 1970s. The full story of Canadian fertility is not in this dramatic decline, however, but rather in the variation across provinces. Provinces have considerable freedom to implement their own policies and shape their own social institutions. As a result, the varying institutional contexts have supported different fertility trends and levels. Alberta and provinces or territories with relatively large Aboriginal populations have higher fertility, while British Columbia and Ontario have the lowest levels. Québec’s fertility was the lowest in the 1980s but has seen a recent increase, likely at least partly a result of pro-natalist policies such as tax incentives, allowances, very low-cost childcare, and expansive parental leave.
KeywordsCanada Sub-regional variation Childcare Family benefits Family policies
I would like to thank Jesse Shuster-Leibner for his research assistance, particularly with helping me understand the French documents; Anne Gauthier for her comments and help identifying important resources; Ron Rindfuss and Minja Choe for their comments; and the four reviewers of this chapter for their detailed, thoughtful, and constructive comments.
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