MPIDR Working Paper

All-time low period fertility in Finland: drivers, tempo effects, and cohort implications

Hellstrand, J., Nisén, J., Myrskylä, M.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2019-006, 34 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (April 2019)
Open Access


In several European countries previously characterized by relatively high and stable cohort fertility, and particularly in the Nordic countries, period total fertility rates (TFR) have declined since 2010. The largest of these declines has been observed in Finland, where the TFR reached an all-time low of 1.49 in 2017. We analyze the decrease in the TFR in Finland since 2010, and assess the consequences of this trend for the completed fertility of women currently of childbearing age using complementary approaches that build on existing parametric and novel nonparametric methods. Decomposition of the fertility decline shows that this trend has been close to universal, with all age groups and parities contributing, but with first-order births and ages 25-29 making the largest contributions. At older ages, we document an important qualitative shift in fertility dynamics: for the first time since the early 1970s, women aged 30+ are experiencing a sustained fertility decline. All of our forecasting methods suggest that cohort fertility is likely to decline from the 1.85-1.95 level that was reached by the 1940-1970 cohorts, to a level of 1.75 or below among women born in the mid-1980s. The tempo-adjusted TFR also suggests that quantum change is driving the decline. These findings are evidence of a strong quantum effect, and are particularly striking because they call into question whether Finland will continue to be part of the Nordic fertility regime, which has been characterized by high and stable fertility.

Keywords: Finland, cohort fertility, forecasts
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.