Fertility in Alberta in a Context of Rapid Economic Growth, 1997-2007

Frank Trovato

Abstract


Historically, birth rates in Alberta have followed closely the trajectory of
change experienced by the other Canadian provinces. Its total fertility rate fell during the low point of the 1930s; it increased during the post-War baby boom in the 1950s and sixties, and thereafter fell to subreplacement levels beginning in the mid 1970s. In recent years, especially since the early 2000s, the birth rate in Alberta has unexpectedly increased, such that by 2007, it had reached 1.90 children per woman - not far from the 2.1 level needed for generational replacement in the long term. During this same period both national and provincial fertility rates fluctuated at levels below those of Alberta (except Saskatchewan and Manitoba, whose rates have been higher). In this study, I examine the historical pattern of fertility change in Alberta,
noting similarities and differences with the other provinces. I then look at
the association of selected macro level factors (marriage, unemployment,
wages, female labour force participation) with change in total and parity-specific birth rates between 1997 and 2007, a period of unprecedented economic growth in Alberta. The statistical results show that although marriage is not significantly correlated with change in fertility rates, male and female wages and female labour force participation all show associations consistent with a procyclical interpretation of fertility change - that is, periods of economic growth are conducive to fertility increase whereas bad economic times are associated with reduced fertility.

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