Can Assisted Reproductive Technologies Help to Offset Population Ageing?

An Assessment of the Demographic and Economic Impact of ART in Denmark and UK

Published in: Human Reproduction, v. 22, No. 9, Sep. 2007, p. 2471-2475

by Stijn Hoorens, Federico Gallo, Jonathan Cave, Jonathan Grant

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Governments worldwide are searching for ways to cope with ageing populations as the demographic shift towards fewer and later births takes hold. The potential contribution of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) to increasing fertility rates has not yet been explored. This paper describes a preliminary study into the impact ART policies might have on population ageing. A deterministic model is developed to quantify the effects of ART policies on total fertility rate (TFR), and tested using data from the UK and Denmark. The population structure for 2050 is modelled to translate fertility rates into time-dependent population dynamics, and the costs of potential ART policies are investigated. If access to ART in the UK were increased to the level of Denmark, the TFR would increase by 0.04, from 1.64 to 1.68. The cumulative effect on the population structure would be a 1.7% decrease in old-age dependency ratio in 2050. Although the empirical models do not include behavioural components, the results demonstrate that ART does have potential to contribute to TFR and influence population structure, and that the direct costs associated with adopting ART as a population policy are comparable with those of existing policies commonly used by governments to influence fertility.

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