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Time For Canadians To Confront Declining Fertility


June 24, 2021

OTTAWA, ON – Canada’s declining fertility rate is a problem that deserves more attention than it gets. According to a new Cardus policy brief, Missing Marriage and the Baby Carriage, Canada’s fertility rate was at a historic low pre-pandemic and early indications are that it dropped further in 2020. That’s due, at least partly, to the economic hardship and uncertainty associated with the pandemic.

“Increased fertility is key to maintaining the country’s ability to finance its social safety net and to help fulfill unpaid caring obligations for aging generations,” says Peter Jon Mitchell, family program director at think tank Cardus. “Immigration has masked Canada’s declining fertility rate, but that may not last.”

Data from the recently updated Canadian Marriage Map suggest marriage is linked to fertility. According to the Canadian Marriage Map, the majority of Canadian children are born into couple-families and the majority of these couples are married. Even so, marriage and partnership rates are declining among Canadian young adults. As a result, Canadian couples reduce or delay having kids.

“While fertility decline is complex, there is little hope of reversing the trend if marriage and partnership rates decline among Canadian young adults,” says Mitchell. “Leaders at all levels – government, academia, and civil society – need to come to grips with the barriers that prevent the formation of the stable families many people desire.”

The Cardus policy brief, Missing Marriage and the Baby Carriage, is freely available online.

To view the latest Canadian data on marriage, family formation, and children, visit

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