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Finland's baby slump continues

The number of babies born in Finland continues to decrease, according to new data from the state statistics agency. So far, 2016 marks the sixth consecutive year of decline for the national birth rate.

Vauvan käsi.
Image: AOP

According to Statistics Finland the number of births in Finland fell more steeply in 2016 than it had ever done before. The agency said that the Finnish birth rate had been in decline for six years running.

Last year Finnish residents welcomed a total of 52,814 newborns into the world, the first time that deaths outnumbered births, not counting exceptional circumstances of bloody civil war and mass executions in 1918 and war with the Soviet Union in 1940.

Although the trend had already been evident early in the year, officials still believed around summer that births through the end of the year would exceed the number of deaths. In recent years, researchers have found that childlessness has increased among less educated women in particular.

Statistics Finland data indicate that the birth rate rose in just three areas in Finland. In Kainuu, the birth rate rose from 1.68 children per woman to 1.79, representing a six-percent increase. Officials say that the change is partly due to a dramatic decrease in births in 2015, followed by a slight rise in 2016. The Åland Islands and Ostrobothnia on Finland’s west coast also reflected similar growth.

Most babies in northern Ostrobothnia

In a comparison of municipalities with a minimum of 50,000 residents, Seinäjoki in western Finland had the highest birth rate. Over the five year-period from 2012 to 2016, the fertility rate was 1.87 children per woman. During the same period, the fertility rate in Helsinki was 1.3. The fertility rate was adjusted to take account of the size of the age cohort.

Finland’s birth rate began to level out at the beginning of the 1970s. Since then it has remained relatively steady, until recently, when it has begun to decline.

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