A newborn child sleeping on their mother’s lap in Helsinki on 5 September 2019. (Irene Stachon – Lehtikuva)

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THE BIRTH RATE in Finland is sliding for already the ninth consecutive year, casting dark clouds on population forecasts, according to experts.

“I was concerned that the forecast would be bad and gloomy, but it turned out to be really chilling. The numbers that tell about our future are a lot gloomier than we dared to anticipate,” researcher Timo Aro stated on YLE TV1 on Monday.

Aro and Markus Rapo, a senior statistician at Statistics Finland, appeared on the public broadcasting company’s morning show to discuss the population forecast unveiled on Monday by Statistics Finland.

The alarming titbits disclosed by the statistical bureau include that the number of births will not exceed that of deaths in a single province in 2035, that the population will begin to decline in 2031 and be roughly 100,000 smaller than today in 2050, and that the working-age population will contract by hundreds of thousands by 2060.

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Rapo on Monday reminded that Statistics Finland was projecting as recently as in 2012 that the population would grow throughout the forecasting period and break the six-million mark by 2060. The newly unveiled forecast is strikingly different.

“It’s a momentous turn in the history of Finland,” summarised Aro.

The main reason for the bleak forecast is the long-running slide in the birth rate. Aro stated that the country must either come to terms with the demographic change or launch a serious discussion about measures to reverse the trend of the birth rate.

“And we should finally launch a debate on our need for employment- and education-based immigration if we want to hold on, somehow, to our population and age structure,” he added.

Although the forecast as a whole is bleak, there are notable differences within Finland. In Helsinki, for example, the total fertility rate stood well below the nationwide average of roughly 1.4 – at 1.13 – in 2018.

“In the Oulu region, there are municipalities where the rate is around two,” said Rapo.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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