“‘Jaw-Dropping’ Global Crash in Children Being Born.” What We in the Toy Industry Must Do Now

“23 nations – including Spain and Japan – are expected to see their populations halve by 2100.” James Gallagher, BBC News


One topic I feel the need to visit regularly is the global decline in childbirth. Consider this headline from BBC News: “Fertility rate: ‘Jaw-dropping’ global crash in children being born.”

What caught my eye was this statement: “The number of under-fives will fall from 681 million in 2017 to 401 million in 2100.” That means there are going to be 40% fewer children to sell to by the end of the century.

Lest you think that this is a problem for toy people of the future, please note that the population slide is occurring right now, and as a result there are going to be fewer children every year until we reach 2100.

What is the reason for this decline in the birthrate? The biggest reason is access to contraception, which is now nearly worldwide. As a result, women have a choice in how many children they want to have. They also have a choice in whether they wish to have children at all.

The decline in childbirths is good for the world. Fewer people means less wear and tear on the planet as well as on our ability to feed everyone. It’s is not, however, good for any industry that is child dependent.

What can we do?

  1. Raise a bigger tent. Focus our product development and marketing on adults who want to play, not as an ancillary effort but, as a core target.
  2. Parents and grandparents are not the only ones who buy toys for children. Listen to the Savvy Auntie, Melanie Notkin, and market to aunts (and uncles too) who don’t have children, but love their nieces and nephews.
  3. Despite the unfortunate anti-immigrant tone of the current government, lobby hard for increased immigration. Not only do immigrants make America a better and stronger place, but we in the toy industry will benefit from the additional consumers.
  4. Keep an eye on southern Africa, the one place in the world destined to grow rather than shrink its population . Toy companies should be opening markets there now. The sales may not come right away, but developing brand equity will pay off later.

Above all, we as an industry cannot ignore the continuing decline in births. Let’s take action now.

4 thoughts

  1. Mr. Brady is absolutely right.about this. The implications of drastic reductions in birth rates could be disastrous not only on the general economy, but on society as well.

  2. Richard,
    Your editorial comment that a decline in births is good for the world is ill-informed. With 3% of the land mass actually occupied, your conclusion doesn’t hold up, but it is the popular assumption of the left that those who are currently alive should try to preserve the space we occupy and those not yet here have no claim to it, nor is there any reason for us to want them here. Hence the destruction of 1 in 4 children’s lives over the past 47 years.
    Should I be surprised that this opinion about population suppression is coming from someone whose entire career has catered to children? I should hope so.
    Your solution to the worldwide PROBLEM of reduced live births? Market to adults who want to play.
    It is the spread of liberal American thinking and foisting off our beliefs (or lack thereof) on other cultures around the world that is an existential threat for the toy and juvenile products industries, not to mention millions upon millions of children around the planet.

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