Finland: Study scrutinizes decline in fertility rate

Fertility rates have been sharply declining in Finland since 2010

Helsinki: Uncertain life situations and lifestyle preferences are the main reasons behind Finnish people’s decision to postpone or renounce childbearing, a recent study conducted by the University of Helsinki has revealed.

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Fertility rates have been sharply declining in Finland since 2010, and the study is the first to systematically examine the reasons behind.

According to Kateryna Golovina, a researcher at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies of the University of Helsinki, the study identified three main reasons: uncertain life situations, lifestyle preferences and completed fertility.

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“Uncertain life situation emerged as the strongest factor,” Golovina said in a statement. This comprised “many dimensions of uncertainty, ranging from perceived financial situation and own or spouse’s unfinished studies to size of apartment and challenges in combining wage work and childcare”.

Lifestyle preferences were the second major factor, Xinhua news agency reported.

“It means that adults did not want to change their current lifestyle and preferred to do other things in life than childbearing.”

Some respondents with children felt they already had a suitable family size and did not wish to have more children.

Further factors were the “widespread use of social media and increased work-related attitudes (‘workism’)”.

Respondents with a more stable life situation, infrequent social media use and lower work orientation were less likely to report uncertainty as a reason to postpone or renounce childbearing.

On the other hand, childless adults, especially women, who used social media frequently and were more work-oriented, were more likely to list lifestyle preferences as a reason to postpone having children.

The study is based on representative survey data from the Finnish Family Barometers conducted in 2015 and 2018 by the Finnish Family Federation. The participants were men and women aged between 20 and 44, who postponed or were not planning to have (more) children.

According to Statistics Finland, the birth rate in the country has decreased significantly in the past decade.

The fertility rate fell from 1.87 children per woman of childbearing age in 2010 to 1.35 in 2019, the lowest on record. In 2020 and 2021, the birth rate rebounded slightly, with fertility rates of 1.37 and 1.41, respectively.

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