MPIDR Working Paper

Educational field, economic uncertainty, and fertility decline in Finland in 2010–2019

Hellstrand, J., Nisén, J., Myrskylä, M.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2022-022, 52 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (October 2022)
Open Access


Fertility declined sharply and unexpectedly in Finland in the 2010s. Using detailed Finnish register data, we calculated total fertility rates (TFRs) and the proportion of women expected to have a first birth (TFRp1) in 2010–2019 for 153 fields of education and estimated how the characteristics of each field predicted its fertility decline. As educational field predicts factors related to economic uncertainty, heterogeneity in fertility decline across fields could shed light on the role of economic uncertainty behind the recent fertility decline.  In general, women with the highest initial fertility levels (health, welfare, and education) and women in agriculture experienced weaker fertility declines (around -20% or less), while women with the lowest initial fertility levels (ICT, arts and humanities) experienced stronger fertility declines (around -40% or more). The extent of the fertility decline increased with higher unemployment and lower income levels of the field, and with a lower share employed in the public sector. These uncertainty measures together explained one-fourth of the decline in TFR and two-fifths of the decline in first births. The results imply that groups characterized by stable job prospects escaped very strong fertility declines and that objective economic uncertainty fueled the fertility decline in Finland.

Keywords: Finland, fertility decline
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.