The number of newborns in Sweden during the first nine months of the year has decreased by 7.7 percent, with the reduction visible in 207 of the country’s 290 municipalities.
According to Statistics Sweden, the drop continued a years-long trend, with the number of newborns this year reaching the lowest point in the 21th century in 30 municipalities both large and small, spread across the country.
Overall, this marks the lowest number of childbirths since 2005 — despite the fact that the country’s population has risen by 1.5 million inhabitants since then, mostly through immigration, as over 160,000 asylum seekers were taken in 2015 alone.
Statistics Sweden stressed that the number of children born partly depends on fertility at different ages, but also on the number of women of childbearing age, yet declined to offer any detailed explanation for the declining number of newborns.
The body rejected any connection with the current threats of a recession, as fertility in Sweden has fallen even when the economy was on the upswing.Childbearing in Sweden has varied over time, with different explanations being offered. From the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, the decline was largely attributed to more women working for a wage, as well as access to better and safer contraceptives.
The decrease was replaced by an increase around the year 1990, which was linked to a strong economy and changes in family policy.
In the late 1990s, however, a decline settled in once again, explained by a protracted economic recession, with younger men and women having it more difficult to establish themselves in the labor market and thus postponing childbearing for the future.
In 1999, Sweden recorded its lowest birth level in history at 1.5 children per woman. In the 2000s, childbearing increased, only to decrease once again.
Similar trends have been observed in neighboring countries, including Finland, which in recent years has reached several nadirs in a row.
Faced with dwindling birthrates and aging, Sweden has in recent decades resorted to mass immigration to plug the gaping holes in the labor market and in the pensions funds. As of now, the share of residents with a foreign background is over a quarter in a nation of over 10 million — and rising, due to immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa tending to have a higher fertility rate than ethnic Swedes.
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