Is Assisted Reproductive Technology the Answer to Declining Birth Rates?

Human birth rates have been dropping for decades, over approximately the same period that assisted reproductive technology (ART) has become increasingly efficient, reliable and accessible as a family-building solution. According to a new study by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the main factor in declining birth rates is the same one that has led to the increased use of ART: many educated, working women and couples are choosing to wait longer to start their families and to have fewer babies when they do.

The study concludes, “Continued trends in female educational attainment and access to contraception will hasten declines in fertility and slow population growth. A sustained TFR lower than the replacement level in many countries, including China and India, would have economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical consequences. Policy options to adapt to continued low fertility, while sustaining and enhancing female reproductive health, will be crucial in the years to come.”

As a law firm specializing exclusively in ART law, we at International Fertility Law Group have seen the transformative effect of assisted reproduction, thousands of times, in empowering individuals to create the families they have always dreamed of. Now, as we consider our future on a planet declining birth rates, it seems likely assisted reproductive technology will become increasingly attractive as countries work to counter that trend.

Why Population Crash Is a Problem

Decades before the COVID-19 pandemic changed daily life as we know it, the global birth rate had already started dropping, according to a BBC report on the new study. By 2100, the planet’s human population is expected to begin declining, with the populations of 23 nations—including Spain and Japan—expected to drop 50 percent.

While a lower birth rate may be beneficial in terms of environmental health and resource conservation, it also means there will be more and more old people, as fewer babies are being born and life expectancy—how long people are expected to live—continues to grow. As a result, fewer and fewer people of working age will be available to support a growing population of elders—a demographic shift that will significantly impact commerce and the labor force.

How Assisted Reproductive Technology Can Help 

Since the birth of the first “test-tube babies” in the 1970s, the development of advanced assisted reproduction technologies—such as in-vitro fertilization, egg donation or sperm donation, cryopreservation or even surrogacy—has expanded the childbearing horizons for millions of people. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM.org), approximately 10 percent to 15 percent of couples suffer from infertility, and some 6.7 million reproductive-age women in the United States have difficulty conceiving or bearing a child. For those who don’t respond to conventional medications or surgical treatment, ART provides additional, increasingly effective options. 

In today’s modern society, as more women pursue advanced educational and career goals, ART has offered women more choices. Rather than being forced to choose between pursuing a promising career or starting a family, women today, thanks to the availability of technologies such as egg freezing and in-vitro fertilization (IVF), often can do both. 

That is not to say the dreaded “biological time clock” is no longer an issue. The mother’s age continues to be one of the primary predictors of successful in-vitro fertilization, gestation and birth. As we wrote back in 2013:

Many couples today focus on becoming financially stable, progressing in their career, or buying a home, before they consider becoming parents. In other cases, it may take years to find the Ms. or Mr. Right with whom to start a family, or illness may prevent one from starting a family. In short, there are a plethora of reasons people delay family formation. The hitch is, when the time finally is right, a woman may no longer be physically in her prime in terms of fertility. Assisted reproductive technology methods offer hope to mature couples looking to build a family later in life, when conception may otherwise be a challenge.

As we have written, biological age continues to be a factor for women planning to have a career first and kids later—even when assisted reproductive technology is an option. Girl babies have about a million eggs at birth, but that number declines throughout life. By age 40, remaining eggs may be of poor quality. Conception, either natural or assisted, becomes more difficult. Some clinics will perform IVF on women in their 40s and 50s; however, after age 35, women’s eggs tend to be less viable and more difficult to fertilize. For women who want to give birth themselves, pregnancy and birth also become more difficult with age.

To some people, the prospect of a declining birth rate and fewer people on the planet sounds like nirvana. In that not-so-distant future, with a dwindling number of young left to provide for growing numbers of old, assisted reproductive technology may be a welcome tool to help governments and societies adapt and restore a healthier balance.

Trust IFLG for Your ART Law Needs 

The experienced fertility lawyers and paralegals of International Fertility Law Group have worked with thousands of intended parents from more than 55 countries to legally protect their families. To learn more about ART, or for legal assistance in starting your future family using assisted reproductive technology, call us today.

Rich Vaughn
Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.


Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 645

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone:  +1 323 331 9343

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

New York

501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900

New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.