Nordic baby boom in the midst of a pandemic
Norway has reported an increase in the birth rate despite the Covid-19 pandemic. The same trend appears in at least two countries in northern Europe, reported Euronews. Surprising, given the drop in births in almost all of Europe, a phenomenon that the Covid-19 has only accentuated.
Published: May 24, 2021, 9:34 am
The Norwegian Bureau of Statistics has seen a considerable increase in births recorded in the first quarter of 2021 in Norway compared to figures for the same period last year. There are 13 700 new-borns, almost 700 more babies than in 2020.
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, at the end of 2019, before the outbreak of the pandemic and against the backdrop of a decline in the birth rate in Norway for the past ten years, had called on her fellow citizens to have more children to reverse the curve.
If this trend continues, then the fertility rate in Norway may rise. The measure is currently 1,48 children per woman as of 2020.
“We are very surprised by these figures. It is also quite striking that the increase in births began roughly nine months after the first coronavirus restrictions were introduced last year,” said Statistics Norway executive officer Ane Magritte Tømmerås. “This could mean that economic security and social assistance programmes became important during the pandemic, and led people to choose to have children anyway.”
In the previous decade, net immigration had accounted for more than 70 percent of the population growth in the first half of 2011, which is more than two-thirds. Therefore, the likelihood that the baby is a new-Norwegian is quite high.
At the time, Norway experienced a population explosion that the other Nordic countries had been unable to keep up with. According to the Nordic Statistical Yearbook for 2011, the population growth in Norway projected for the next fifteen years had already been three times higher than that of the other Nordic countries.
However, the first quarter of 2021 saw the second-lowest level of immigration in the country since 2006.
According to Euronews, current positive trends in birth rates were also registered in Finland and the Netherlands. But unlike northern countries, the European Union in general can not boast such positive fertility rates.
In Spain and Italy, the European countries most affected by the pandemic, the birth rate has collapsed. At the end of 2020 and in the first months of the current year, the rate has dropped by around 20 percent. Apart from the health crisis itself and the medical risks of Covid-19 that can complicate pregnancy, experts pointed to the negative effects of the economic situation and confinement as the main reasons for this social phenomenon.
In France, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE), the number of births recorded in January 2021 decreased by 13 percent compared to January 2020: a drop “that is not explained by the decreases that may have occurred or observed in the past”. France, like its neighbours, risks being confronted with the lowest birth rate in several decades.
The idea proposed by the High Commissioner for the Plan François Bayrou to remedy the demographic situation by resorting to immigration does not represent an optimal solution, according to several experts, who underline the risk of a “Great Replacement” incurred by France and throughout Europe.
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