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28 1, 7:07am
Let me lay out my theory on that.
During the "Dark Ages", of as recently as the first half of the twentieth century, children earned their keep. Actively. Not just in the promise of a place for Grandma and Grandpa to sleep in their dotage. Children worked the farms, at one point even in factories. Having a child meant, in a few short years, more workers.
With education, and jobs that require a basic level of education greater than "follow along beside Dad, do as he does, and one day you'll do it all by yourself", children cease to be active earners. In fact, children are an active drain. They cost time. In places where the family is required to pay for "basic" pre-natal care, anywhere where children must be clothed and fed at the parents expense, and especially anywhere where any part of the cost of educating the child, (including not just tuition, which is probably pretty rare for parents of 1st world countries to be DIRECTLY saddled with, at least until age 18, but also school supplies, some of which can be quite expensive individually, like gym shoes, a computer, etc,) children cost a significant amount of money.
Throw in the idea that society, rather than ones children, can care for you in your old age, and having children ceases to be a natural, economic choice, and the only time someone's likely to choose to do so is if they truly love children, or the idea of family, or if they, heh, screw up. Pun quite intended.
There are people who go to great lengths to teach women in third world countries, because there is an inverse correlation between a woman's level of education and the number of children she's likely to bear in her lifetime. Naturally, correlation does not equal causation.
Jobs that kids just can't do, a culture that penalizes child labor, and high child-rearing expenses. These are the things that depress birthrates. Of course, educating the women does make the first possible. Generally available jobs that are too advanced to do by kids, or with kids underfoot.