Home | Press Releases | The Missing Link Between Climate Change and Women’s Fertility

The Missing Link Between Climate Change and Women's Fertility

Do environmental concerns cause women in Canada to want fewer children?


November 15, 2023 

OTTAWA, ON – Do concerns about climate change lead women in Canada to have fewer children? Cardus Senior Fellow and demographer Lyman Stone set out to answer that question in a new Cardus report, Climate and the Crib: Do Environmental Concerns Reduce Fertility?

The report finds that:

  • Only 28% of women under age 30 who desire more children than they currently have named climate change as a concern that influenced their family-planning decisions.
  • While women who had climate-change worries tended to report smaller ideal and intended family sizes, this worry made no significant difference in actual fertility behaviours.
  • Both women who are worried about climate change and women who are not worried about it are likely to have fewer children than they desire or intend. Even women who report that climate-change worry influences their childbearing plans desire more children than they are actually likely to have.

“To the extent that climate-change worry predicts fertility attitudes and behaviours, it may work more as a rationalization for having kids later in life than as motivating actually having fewer children,” says Stone. “Climate-change concern is part of a larger set of cultural or political beliefs—associated with various worries and anxieties—and these broader beliefs are a stronger predictor of fertility outcomes.”

So, as Canadian leaders think about climate change and fertility, it would make sense for them to be less concerned with a link between climate change and fertility (or any specific worry and fertility), and more concerned with why many women today feel a need to adopt various rationalizations for low fertility.

Stone will be in downtown Toronto this morning to discuss the findings on a panel, including pollster and author of Empty Planet: The Shock of Population Decline Darrell Bricker and political commentator Ginny Roth. For event details, please, visit the Cardus website.

Climate and the Crib: Do Environmental Concerns Reduce Fertility? is freely available on online.

Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications

Cardus – Imagination toward a thriving society

Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society’s institutions can work together for the common good.