MPIDR Working Paper
A spatial perspective on the Nordic fertility decline: the role of economic and social uncertainty in fertility trends
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2020-036, 44 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (November 2020)
-Since 2010, some of the Nordic countries have experienced fertility declines down to unprecedented levels. Fertility decline in the Nordic countries was unexpected for most experts, considering that these countries were not heavily affected by the 2008 economic recession which was related to fertility declines in other European countries. Researchers have sought to understand why fertility is declining in these countries but have so far paid little attention to the spatial dimension of this process, despite evidence of large spatial variation of fertility. This paper contributes new understanding to the role of space in Nordic fertility changa and how the uncertainty perspective is related to spatial patterns of fertility. We apply advanced spatial panel models to data covering 1,099 municipalities in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden to separate out spatial variation and temporal variation. Our models use both economic (employment, income) and social (partnership dissolution, voting) measures of uncertainty to explore how uncertainty is related to fertility. Results show that fertility levels and trends by age vary substantially by level of urbanization. Differences in uncertainty by age appear essential to spatial variation – while social contexts are related to variation at all ages, economic measures are more related to fertility under age thirty than over age thirty. In addition, stability in fertility over age thirty seems to be an important buffer for the overall rate of total fertility decline, especially in rural municipalities.
Keywords: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden