A child celebrating their seventh birthday in Helsinki on 12 January 2019. (Credit: Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)


THE BIRTH RATE in Finland has fallen even more sharply than anticipated at the end of last year.

Statistics Finland on Tuesday reported that the total fertility rate decreased last year to 1.40 – its lowest level in recorded history – as the number of births decreased by over 3,000 from the previous year to roughly 47,300.

The number of deaths contrastively crept up by almost 600 to over 54,000 in 2018.

The Finnish population grew by 8,600 year-on-year in spite of the record-low fertility rate, as the number of people immigrating to the country (31,700) exceeded that of people emigrating from the country (16,100) by approximately 15,500. The rate of population growth, however, slowed down from the previous year, when the population grew by almost 11,500.

Statistics Finland in November predicted that a total of 48,800 children would be born in Finland in 2018.

“Statistics Finland’s official population forecast became outdated immediately. Twelve per cent fewer children than anticipated were born in the last quarter of the year,” commented Juhana Brotherus, the chief economist at the Mortgage Society of Finland (Hypo).

He added that the sharp decline in the number of births has also contributed to the slowdown of the housing market, as people are not forced to buy larger homes to welcome new family members.

Olli Kärkkäinen, an economist at Nordea, estimated that the statistics cast further shadows on population development in Finland. “If you thought that the population forecast published towards the end of last year was bleak, you were wrong,” he noted on Twitter.

Concerns about the sliding birth rate have recently been a regular feature in the statements of politicians and government officials. A low birth rate reduces the growth potential and deteriorates the sustainability of public finances in Finland, thus creating more pressure to generate savings and cut public spending.

Minister of Finance Petteri Orpo (NCP) in November stated that the latest population forecast is very disconcerting, arguing that revamping the family leave system is the most important means to tackle the undesirable development.

“We’ll improve the position of families, introduce more flexibilities, improve the labour market position of women [and] create equality – those are the first things we’ll have to do,” he said.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi