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Finland has Nordics' oldest first-time mothers

Share of over-35s giving birth is higher in Finland than its Scandinavian neighbours.

Mies pitää kättään odottavan naisen paljaalla vatsalla.
The fall in birth rates has been more marked in Finland than other Nordic countries. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

The average age of women giving birth is higher in Finland than any of the other Nordic countries, statistics from health and welfare institute THL say.

The figures show that in 2018, almost 24 percent of birthing mothers were over 35, while the average age for giving birth for the first time is 29.4 years, higher than in Scandinavia.

However the report says that the average age for having a child has risen in all the Nordic countries.

Approaching Central European levels

THL research professor Mika Gissler said Finland's falling fertility rate and increasing age of first-time mothers are approaching central European levels.

"In Spain and Italy, for example, first-time mothers are even older than in Finland. The same problems of people putting it off exist there, too," Gissler said.

European birth rates have been generally falling for decades, however the speed of decline has come as a surprise, Gissler said.

"The largest reason behind the fall in fertility is that people are having their first child later and first-time birthers are older than before."

The change is more marked in Finland than other Nordic countries.

"The proportion of over-35s giving birth has grown in Finland from around 18 percent to 24 percent in ten years," Gissler said. However the number of over 45s giving birth remains low.

Nordics' highest birth rate in Sweden

In neighbouring Sweden the birth rate is among the highest in Europe, which Gissler said is down to the proportion of immigrants in the population. In Sweden, 24 percent of 15-49 year old women are of immigrant background, compared to less than 10 percent in Finland. Denmark, Norway and Iceland are between 17 and 21 percent, Gissler said.

"We see higher birth rates the more immigration there is," Gissler said.

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