Condemned to diminish?
The number of children being born in Finland is not enough for the natural regeneration of the population. Finns are getting fewer and older. According to predictions, by the end of this century, there will only be 3.8 million Finns, which is 1.4 million less than there are now. As early as the next few years, the rise in the share of old age pensioners in the population will place a heavy burden on public sector finances.
Every Finnish woman should give birth to an average of 2.1 children if the current level of the population is to be preserved. In recent decades, however, the overall birth rate in Finland has been considerably less than two children per woman.
In different surveys, Finns give a variety of reasons for the decrease in the number of children: reduction in family support, a change in the position of women, the prolonging of tertiary education, the uncertainty of young adults in the job market and the demands of working life.
The support of family-friendly policies can only have a limited impact on the birth rate. The responsibility of preserving the population should be divided between different quarters of society. For example, labour market organisations, companies and employees’ unions could do much at all levels to change attitudes. Such things as the attitude of Finnish men to the family and childcare could be altered.
In the end the responsibility rests with individuals, with Finnish adults. Their attitudes and values determine how important they think children are. Present-day values are centred on the individual, the career and standards of living, so there is no room for children. Changing and reforming values, however, does not necessarily require government funding and support. It would be sufficient if parents were ready to compromise on something of their own for the sake of children. This report is in Finnish.