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Birth rates slump again

Preliminary figures suggest that Finland saw a record-low number of births in 2022.

Nukkuvan vauvan kasvot sivusta kuvattuna. Tummahiuksisen vauvan päällä vaaleaa peittoa kaulaan asti ja ympärillä vihreävalkoisia liinavaatteita.
Image: Janne Nykänen / Yle
Yle News

Finland's Covid-era baby boom appears to have been short-lived, according to Statistics Finland.

Unlike in many other countries, the birth rate began to rise in Finland during the coronavirus pandemic. But figures now suggest that Finland's total fertility rate may have fallen to an all-time low last year—1.33— according to Johanna Lahtela, a senior statistician at the number crunching agency.

Between January and November of last year, 42,500 babies were born, which is some 4,300 fewer births than during the same period in 2021.

In 2010, the country's fertility 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. Now early figures suggest that last year's rate dropped to 1.33. The agency will publish final figures for 2022 in April.

No perfect time

A reduced number of parental benefit applications also suggests a drop in the number of currently pregnant women. Anna Rotkirch, who heads the Family Federation, told Yle that the trend is unlikely to turn around this year.

"Maternity benefit applications are down sharply—nearly ten percent," she said.

The fall in fertility rates is not down to sperm counts or the rising age of women trying to conceive, according to Rotkirch, who pointed out that fertility treatments are increasingly effective.

Instead, Rotkirch said she sees the falling fertility rate as part of a cultural and societal shift that has—in many people's minds—raised the bar for starting a family.

People want to have children when their lives are stable—financially as well as in other areas—according to Rotkirch.

"While most people still want to have two children on average, many end up childless because the threshold for having that first child has risen for different reasons," she explained.

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