Based on the State of World Population 2005 report, which was released today by the United Nations Population Fund, the Czech Republic has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, specifically 1.19 children per woman. It shares the same statistic with Slovakia. The only two countries with an even lower birth rate are Ukraine and Hong Kong. In the latter case, birth rate is regulated by the state. The average birth rate in Europe is 1.42.
Czech women wait longer to have kids these days – often into their early to mid-30s – and lots of them end up having only one child. Why? Career, financial reasons and a desire for independence seem to be the main factors.
Czech women place more importance on their careers than they did in the past. They often choose to postpone the committment of having kids in favor of their jobs. The fact that women with children tend to be disadvantaged by their employees only contributes to this trend. Young Czechs are also presented with a lot more opportunities than was the norm some 10 – 15 years ago and many of them spend their 20s working abroad or studying.
Young Czech couples often wait on starting a family until they can afford to raise a child. Salary levels in the Czech Republic have been increasing at a slower rate than the cost of living, and the amount of financial support that the Czech government provides to women on maternity leave is low. It depends on the woman’s salary and the amount of her monthly health insurance payments. The maximum amount of government support is 419 CZK/14 EUR per day, but many Czech women only qualify for half of this amount or less.