Skip to content

Researchers link heavy social media use to Finland's falling fertility rate

The most common reasons for postponing having children are an uncertain life situation or wanting to maintain a childless lifestyle.

Birthrates have fallen dramatically since 2010. Image: AOP

Finland's fertility rate has dropped considerably over the past decade.

In 2010, the rate was 1.87 children per woman but in 2019 the ratio dropped to 1.35. However, a slight but brief uptick, partially attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic, was noted after 2019.

Specifically, people under the age of 30 are increasingly postponing having their first child, and the number of children per family has also fallen.

Researchers at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies looked into the factors that are influencing people's decisions about whether to have children or not.

The spread of social media

The study identified three main reasons for postponing having children or not having children at all, according to a press release from the institution.

Researchers found that respondents who were more work- and social media-oriented cited lifestyle preferences as their main reason for postponing starting families. This was particularly the case with female respondents.

"Public speculation has suggested that the spread of social media in the 2010s may be linked to a decline in the birth rate. Here we show for the first time with survey data that there is a link," said Anna Rotkirch, Research Director at the Finnish Population Research Institute.

Uncertain economic situation

The other most common reason people blamed for delaying or not having children was an insecure life situation. This included unfinished studies, financial uncertainty as well as concerns about the challenges of combining work and childcare.

Another commonly cited reason was lifestyle.

"Some adults did not want to change their current lifestyles, preferring to do other things in life rather than start a family," researcher Kateryna Golovina said.

Some respondents also felt that they already had a suitable family size.

The survey was based on the Finnish Population Research Institute's family barometer and included both men and women participants aged 20 to 44.

Latest: paketissa on 10 artikkelia