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Survey: Finances, single life main reasons for postponing children

A notable number of people want government action to stimulate the birth rate, but only a minority support immigration.

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Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

More than 60 percent of people interviewed in a recent survey said that they’ve put off having children, either because of poor finances or because they don’t have a partner.

The survey of just over 3,000 respondents by the white collar union confederation STTK also found that studying was a common reason for postponing starting a family.

Meanwhile women in particular cited precarious jobs and salaries as the main reason they would not rush to have kids.

"Insecure income also increases pressure, especially on younger generations. This concern is reflected in the difficulty of making life plans," STTK chair Antti Palola said in a statement.

In 2019, Finland's birth rate dropped for the ninth consecutive year. Many politicians, policymakers, business leaders and others have been keen to point out that Finland needs to increase its population level or the country will see its social support system collapse in coming years.

Support for government action

A majority of the survey's respondents, particularly among the over-55 age group, said that they're worried about Finland’s steadily declining birth rate.

They said that the most significant of the downward trend was the threat to pension funding and the decline of public services.

Most said that government should take action to increase the birth rate. Research professor Anna Rotkirch of the Family Federation of Finland described the support for government measures as surprisingly strong.

"It’s interesting that although people hesitate when it comes to having children, many people say they want to see the state do something about it," Rotkirch said.

Immigration a rapid solution

Respondents said that Finland could improve its birth situation by increasing access to permanent jobs, adding opportunities for part-time and remote work and by introducing more flexibility in daycare services.

Rotkirch said that in the short term, immigration is the fastest way to address the decline in births in Finland. However just 25 percent of respondents supported increased immigration.

"In light of the changes caused by the current situation, it's somewhat surprising that the support for immigration is so low," Rotkirch noted.

Aula Research conducted the survey of 3,022 respondents between the ages of 18 and 70 from 3 to 21 December 2019.

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