The headline in the Finnish media last week “Population projections reveal shocking future trends” almost suggests that the country has only just awakened to the fact that its birth rates have been below replacement since 1969. 

Preliminary data from Statistics Finland released last week shows that in the first six months of this year 26,517 children were born, the lowest number in the history of Finland as an independent state in a comparable time period. 

Finland is home to fewer and fewer children and Statistics Finland predicts that the number of pensioners will potentially exceed the number of 18-40 by 2029.  There will be a corresponding long-term decline in the number of young and middle-aged workers, as the following table produced by Yle depicts:



As with all of Europe, lowered fertility accounts for much of the change, together with longer life expectancy.    Statistics Finland reports that since 1969 the birth rate has been below the population regeneration rate of 2.1 children per woman. In 1901 Finnish women gave birth to an average of almost five children. Today the total fertility rate is 1.65 children. The birth rate steadily dropped through the 20th century, rising again slightly to a peak of 3.47 during the late 40’s and early 50’s, and then continuing its decline. 

So many Finns are currently moving abroad that, as a result of both this and low birth rates, the country’s population of 5,493,577 would cease to increase this year if it were not for immigration into the country.  In 2015 Finland’s total population increase was a mere 370 people, as shown in the following table also produced by Yle:

Thus, Finnish society will look decidedly more elderly in the years to come.

Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts is co-editor of MercatorNet's blog on population issues, Demography is Destiny. While she has a background as a barrister, writing has been a life-long passion and she has contributed...