The changing face of Hamilton: Where have all the kids gone?

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The city is seeing declining birth rates, even though there are plenty of young adults to start families. Why is this happening?

By Steve Buist

There’s something missing in the “Best Place to Raise a Child” — the children.

In the past 15 years, Hamilton has lost a net total of 32 schools from the public and Catholic boards combined.

It’s the result of a steep drop in the number of children in the city over the past two decades, according to a new demographic profile produced by the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton.

Put another way, about one of every six schools on average has closed since 2001, with more consolidation of schools set for the next couple of years.

What’s perplexing, the report notes, is that the city has seen a surge in its millennial population — those young adults who would normally be in the midst of starting families.

“Despite the recent strong growth in residents in their prime reproductive years,” the SPRC report states, “there has not yet been a corresponding noticeable increase in the number of children being born in Hamilton.”

Declining birth rates are not a new phenomenon or something specific to Hamilton. It’s happening across Canada and the rest of the western world.

“It is perfectly legitimate for someone to decide not to have children,” said Sara Mayo, a social planner with the SPRC. “The question is: are those free decisions?

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Article and image source: The Hamilton Spectator

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