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Chile faces “aging population” challenge

Monday, February 12th 2007 - 20:00 UTC
Full article

Chile's birth rate has dropped substantially from 3.5% in 1962 to just 1.6% today. And with the country's “baby boom” generation (1957—1962) turning grey, Chile could face a future crisis of social care and pension payments.

Two recent studies have confirmed this "aging population" trend and believe that, like European countries, the birth rate will continue to fall in coming years. While this indicates Chile's movement towards an increasingly gender-equal and economically developed society, more traditional members of society have enjoyed the excuse to lament the decline of the nation â€" their most common complaints being contraceptives and women in the workforce. With the debate over the morning-after pill raging, Osvaldo Larrañaga of the Universidad de Chile gave ammunition to this argument, citing the widespread availability of contraceptives as being the central cause of the declining birth rate. According to Larrañaga, the ability to practice safe-sex has allowed Chileans greater control over if and when to have children. However, a similar study carried out by Rodrigo Cerda at the Universidad Catolica points to the increased costs of raising and educating children in Chile as being prohibitive. While clothing a baby is substantially cheaper and feeding a baby remains at a similar level to 1986 figures, the cost of educating children has more than doubled. Both academics agree that the greater participation of women in the workforce has contributed to the low birth rate. Cerda also concluded that for "Every additional year of education a woman has, the number of children she will have declines by 0.06." He puts this down to women having greater expectations for their personal development. The Santiago Times - News about Chile

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