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Statistics Finland: Falling birth rates cannot maintain population

Finland's population is set to reach its peak in 2033, at just over 5.6 million, the number-crunching agency predicts.

For the past years, Finland's population has been growing solely thanks to immigration. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle
Yle News

An estimated 700,000 more people will die than be born in Finland by 2060, according to a forecast published by Statistics Finland on Thursday

The forecast predicts that Finland's population will begin to decline in 2034, when the estimated population will have reached 5.6 million, without immigration to increase the number of people living in the country.

If current trends continue, only 15 regions, including Uusimaa, Pirkanmaa and Åland in southern Finland, will observe more births than deaths annually by 2040.

"Birth rates are at a very low level. Over the past 200 years, similar levels have only been observed last year and the year before," said Markus Rapo, a senior statistician at the agency.

According to Rapo, in 2015 Finland was among the 10 EU countries with the highest birth rates. Finland's current ranking stands at seventh to last. Of the Nordic countries Sweden and Denmark are still among the top 10, however non-EU states Norway and Iceland's birth rates have fallen sharply.

"In the long term, the birth rate is not sustainable in terms of Finland's age structure," the agency's press release (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reads.

Long-term impact on number of workers and youngsters

This is the fourth consecutive year during which fewer than 50,000 children were born in Finland.

Low birth rates are quickly reflected in a decline in the number of young people and the 'demographic dependency ratio,' which is the number of those aged 15 or under and 65 or over per 100 working age persons.

From the 2040s onwards, according to Statistics Finland's forecast, low birth rates will also be evident in the size of the working-age population.

Over the next two decades, it is projected that the working-age population will decrease by 76,000, after which the decline is set to accelerate further. By the end of 2060, the working-age population could go down to 3.1 million people, roughly 310,000 fewer people than now.

Brief pandemic baby boom not enough to counter declining trend

For the past years, Finland's population has been growing solely thanks to immigration. The number of deaths began to exceed the number of births in 2016.

The number of babies born increased by six percent in 2020 - this was the first rebound in nine years. The 'mini baby boom' was partly attributed to the pandemic.

Still, the number of deaths outpaced the number of births by nearly 10,000 in 2020.

"The pandemic year is just one year among other years. Considering the trend of the past five years, it has only a small effect on the overall situation," Rapo said in the press release.

Forecast gives 'chance for decision-makers to react'

Statistics Finland's forecast makes nationwide projections up to 2070 and regionally up to 2040. According to the press release, the agency did not factor the impact of economic, socio-political regional policy into its predictions on population development.

"The task of a population projection is to provide tools with which decision-makers can assess whether measures need to be taken to try to influence the population development," the press release reads.

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