Scientists: Czechs are dying out

28-05-2004

According to latest data, the Czech Republic has the second lowest fertility rate in the world. There are now 10 million Czechs. Demographers warn that if the negative trend continues, in 300 years there would be only 60.000 Czechs left. Pavla Horakova spoke to the head of the Demography Section at Prague's Faculty of Science, Jitka Rychtarikova, who presented the results of the study earlier this week.

"Currently, the Czech Republic belongs to the lowest low-fertility countries that are defined by the total fertility rate which is the average number of children per woman below 1.3. Currently, the Czech Republic has this total fertility rate 1.17."

Can you compare it to other European countries?

"Only Ukraine has a lower level, 1.1 children per woman. European countries such as France, Norway, Denmark, etc. have their total fertility rate more than 1.6 or 1.7."

How do you explain this phenomenon?

"There are several explanations. I think that the first point is the economic hardships that the populations in the former communist countries have had in recent times. It means difficulties with housing conditions, regarding family policies, in family policy measures we observe deterioration of real value of those measures, and also regarding the labour market. It is more difficult to combine the role of a parent and a working person. Of course, on the other hand, there is an increase in the mean age at the first birth or birth in general. Of course, there are more opportunities compared with the situation that was before but I think that the first set of factors is more important than the second one."

Could the government introduce legislation or incentives that might reverse the trend?

"I think that in the current situation, when the Czech Republic has really extremely low fertility level, it is necessary to do something in particular with the housing market, to increase not only child allowances, but also for instance to do something with parental leave, maternity leave and to help young families or young people to have children."

28-05-2004