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Canadian parents want more kids – why aren't they having them?

June 19, 2007

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    Shrinking families are creating a demographic crisis that threatens
    everyone's retirement, finds "The War on the Family," a new feature in
    the Summer issue of MoneySense magazine.

    TORONTO, June 19 /CNW/ - Canada has become a country where small families
are the norm - and those small families are shaping a demographic crisis that
is going to hurt all of us over the decades ahead, whether we have children or
not. The Summer issue of MoneySense magazine, which arrives on newsstands
across the country today, examines this alarming trend.

    The amazing shrinking Canadian family

    As recently as the 1960s, families used to span an average of four kids;
today, the typical family includes 1.5 children. Since today's parents aren't
having enough kids to replace themselves, Canada's population growth has
slowed to only 1% a year. Two-thirds of that increase comes from immigration
rather than new babies. Soon we will rely completely on immigration to keep
Canada's population from shrinking.

    Canadian parents want more kids - so why aren't they having them?

    The tragedy is that young parents still want good-sized families. When
young Canadians were asked how many children they'd like in their families,
the average answer was 2.5 - one full child more than they actually go on to
have. Why the discrepancy? It seems that young couples adjust their plans when
they run into the economic realities of having a child. "A generation ago, it
took just one working parent to generate that median household income," writes
MoneySense features editor Duncan Hood. "These days it takes two."

    A brutally unfair system

    "The current system is brutally unfair," explains Hood, "because it
focuses on income, not wealth." In 2005, the median net worth of couples with
children was a meager $189,000. The median net worth of senior couples was
more than twice as high, at $443,600. But it's the seniors who get the tax
breaks, even though it's the young families who need them.

    Why every Canadian - parent or not - should be concerned

    Slow growth is a problem because many of our social programs - notably
Old Age Security and Medicare - were designed back in the days of tail-finned
cars and four kids to a family. "Both plans raise money by taxing those who
are working," Hood reports. "But since Canada's population is aging, fewer and
fewer people are working for each retired senior." Given the dismal math, the
federal government will face two ugly options in the decades ahead. It can
reduce benefits or service to the elderly or it can tax the young even more
heavily to support the millions of boomers now beginning to retire.

    About MoneySense:

    MoneySense is Canada's personal finance and lifestyle magazine. Packed
with smart features, practical advice and easy-to-follow financial tips on
everything from home improvement to mutual funds, an average MoneySense issue
attracts 892,000 Canadians on the lookout for new ways to save, invest and
spend. is Canada's best all-around personal finance website.