Sustained Period Fertility Decline in the Nordic Countries: The End of the Common High Fertility Regime?

Julia Hellstrand , University of Helsinki
Jessica Nisén, University of Turku
Mikko Myrskylä, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Vitor F. Miranda, Statistics Sweden
Peter Fallesen, Rockwool Foundation
Lars Dommermuth, Statistics Norway

The family-friendly Nordic countries with similar patterns of high and stable cohort fertility experience since 2010 a surprisingly strong period fertility decline. Yet, trends in period fertility do not automatically translate to trends in cohort fertility, so an important emerging question is whether cohort fertility will also decline. In this study, we compare current childbearing trends in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden for women at reproductive age. By examining the development in fertility timing, we observe a new fertility postponement for women in their early 30s, but tempo-adjustments indicate that changes purely in timing fail to explain the recent period fertility decline in all Nordic countries. Parity-specific analyses show consistent patterns of strong declines in first birth intensities, but weaker declines in higher order childbearing. Declines particularly in third order childbearing are found mainly in Iceland, but to some extent also in Finland and Norway. The forecasts indicate that cohort fertility is likely to decline from the average of 2 children for the 1970 cohort to even below 1.8 children for the late 1980s cohort. Finland diverges on level, as cohort fertility below 1.6 is likely to be achieved. Denmark and Sweden diverge on trend, as their cohort fertility is expected to fall more slowly than in Finland, Iceland, and Norway. These findings do not only highlight Finland as an outlier, but also suggest that the high fertility regime of the Nordic countries is coming to an end. Our findings indicate that cohort fertility may decline also in societies with strong institutional support for parenthood and high levels of gender equality.

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 Presented in Session 115. Fertility