April 13, 2024

The global demographic winter is good news for IVF clinics

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good. Falling fertility rates around the world are worrying policy experts. The population of some countries will halve by end of century. Countries with a unique culture and language like South Korea or Japan face a bleak future.

But for the IVF industry, this is a brilliant marketing opportunity. The International Federation of Fertility Societies has created a website called “More Joy” to promote its services to infertile couples to doctors, policy makers, politicians, and employers. “Together let’s ensure that everyone who wants to build a family can,” it says. 

In BioNews, Professor Bert Fauser and Dr Edgar Mocanu, of the IFFS, explain why IVF will be more important than ever in a world with fewer babies. (A longer paper appears in the journal Human Reproduction.) They call for more access to IVF and more government subsidies for fertility care. 

For decades, they write, healthcare has been focused on family planning – how to avoid pregnancies, how to postpone pregnancies and how to terminate pregnancies. But the pendulum has swung too far. Now there is an urgent need for family building policies – and IVF must be a key component of healthcare for this. 

They use the same words as campaigners for zero population growth did for decades – alarming, on a precipice, global crisis, catastrophe – but repurposed for population decline. They conclude:

Without comprehensive reforms such as those outlined by the IFFS, there will be grave and potentially permanent impacts from underpopulation just as there are from overpopulation. Declining infertility rates will imperil economic growth and social stability.

When populations contract then the proportion of older people increases which in turns means rising healthcare and pension costs. With fewer working-age adults, businesses cannot fill essential roles because the supply of qualified workers declines.

It is time that policymakers focus on family building as a key part of family care – and to bring more joy to the world.