Fertility Blog

Falling Fertility Rates

From Asia to Europe to North America, many countries are reporting falling fertility rates. Of course, infertility affects many couples personally, as you well know. But it also is a public health issue with broad economic implications, including rising health care expenditures for a rapidly aging population. For example, if growth continues at the current rate, 19 percent of the U.S. population will be over 65 by the year 2030.1

Rapid declines. In Asia, fertility rates are lower than global rates worldwide. In China specifically, infertility has risen from 1 to 3 percent in the 1970s to about 10 percent today. In some cities, the rate is as high as 18 percent.2 In Europe, couples at fertility clinics are reporting infertility increases of 8 to 9 percent each year.3

Potential contributors. 2

Recently reporting for Theconversation.com, Sheena Lewis, professor of Reproductive Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast describes other potential causes as well. Undiagnosed infertility in men, for one. A few years ago, she and colleagues found that 80 percent of couples diagnosed with “unexplained infertility” actually were unsuccessful due to poor sperm quality.

In addition, poor lifestyle choices and environmental factors are contributors, she said, and may also be converging to alter gene behavior—possibly affecting future generations. Finally, despite pioneering assisted reproductive technology in 1978, she said, the UK can’t boast success rates that are much better than they were 35 years ago.3


  1. Administration on Aging: Aging Statistics
  2. WantChinaTimes.com: Rising infertility to exacerbate China's population crisis
  3. TheConversation.com: Why infertility is becoming a public health issue in Europe

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