24 February 2020

Record low birth rates in Scandinavia

The age that women have their first child has gone up in Denmark (DK), Finland (FI), Iceland (IS), Norway (NO) and Sweden (SE). (Nordic Council of Ministers screenshot)

From an article at ScienceNorway:
The Nordic countries have previously had high fertility rates. This has been partly explained by the fact that the countries have favourable policies for parental leave and childcare.

Now these policies don’t seem to be having as much effect as one would expect, Karlsdóttir says. “We’re becoming more and more like the rest of the world.” Fertility rates have gone down in almost the entire Nordic region

Finland has seen the largest drop in fertility rates. The country’s average fertility rate is now 1.4 births per woman, compared to 1.9 in 2010. Norway is just behind at 1.56 children, compared with 1.96 in 2010. Finland’s and Norway’s fertility rates are now lower than the EU average, which is at 1.59.

Thanks to Sweden and Denmark, which still have relatively high fertility rates, the Nordic region as a whole is slightly above the EU average. Sweden’s fertility rate is 1.76 children born per woman and Denmark’s is 1.72.

The researchers' main explanation for this development is that women are having their first child later in life.  Today, the average age of first-time mothers in the Nordic countries is 30 years old compared to age 21 in 1971...

Norwegian women need to give birth to 2.1 children, knows as 'the replacement rate', each to maintain the population.
Discussion re population mobility and immigration effects at the link.


  1. My first thought when reading this was how this relates to the blog below regarding Universal Health Care (UHC). An aging population means higher health care costs and fewer workers to pay for it. An accompanying article on the link kind of answered that question.

    "...increased health and pension costs associated with an older, smaller population, are a minor disadvantage when compared to the bigger picture. "If there is a country that can withstand higher pension costs, it is certainly Norway,” There is, however, no doubt that an ageing population will mean higher health and pension expenses..."

    The article does not go into details, but it does enumerate these benefits of an aging population:

    "Among the benefits of an ageing, shrinking population, the new article lists:

    1. Rising wages for workers and higher wealth per capita
    2. Less crowding and reduced stress in populated areas
    3. Greater protection of green spaces and improved quality of life"


    There is also this regarding the effects of an aging population. The lnk only provides a summary of the article, the whole text is behind a pay wall


  2. My wild guess is that as more women get a higher education, they delay having kids to finish their education and get their first job. As much as Scandinavia has worked to allow people to work and have kids, the education system still makes it very hard....


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