Norway's Unexpected COVID-19 Baby Boom Continues After Lockdown
Prior to the unforeseen COVID-19 baby boom, Norway's fertility rate had been falling for years, reaching an all-time nadir of merely 1.48 children per woman in 2020, despite a record low number of abortions.
In 2021, far more children were born in Norway than in the years before the pandemic. The baby boom, that first started when Norway locked down to stop the spread, continues even following the nation's reopening.
In the first nine months of 2021, 2,037 more children were born in Norway than in the same period last year. After a steep decline in the number of births lasting several years, the tide has turned in Norway amid the pandemic.
January 2021 was the first month in many years that Norway saw its birth rate increase. Children born then were conceived in April 2020, shortly after Norway initially closed down during the first onslaught of the novel coronavirus.
“This is interesting, not least given the decline in the number of annual births from 63,000 to 53,000 over the course of twelve years,” Ferenc Macsali at the Medical Birth Register at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) said in a statement.
The second and largest peak came after a summer of travel restrictions. The largest increase came in March 2021, when 8.3 percent more children were born than the year before.
Overall, birth rates increased in all Norwegian counties and regions after the closure, but the increase was greatest in the northern part of the country. According to the register, second-time mothers accounted for the largest increase.
Macsali said there is no scientific answer as to why this happened. On the contrary, times of crisis tend to be accompanied by declining birth rates.
“It is common to postpone having children in times of crisis, so this deviates from the pattern,” Macsali said, referring to previous reports from the US and Europe that show that economic uncertainty affects birth rates negatively.
Demographer Svenn-Erik Mamelund of the Oslo Metropolitan University pointed out to research portal Forskning that in 1918, when the devastating Spanish flu harrowed Norway, births fell by 6.3 percent.
“However, this does not seem to have affected the Norwegian figures. Preliminary figures for the rest of the world show that Denmark, the Netherlands, Hungary, and Croatia also have increased birth rates from winter and spring 2021. Still, for most other European countries, there is no change or decline,” Macsali mused.
15 July 2021, 05:37 GMT
Prior to the unexpected COVID-19 boom, Norway's fertility rate had fallen every single year since 2009, breaking several annual records in a row and reaching an all-time low at merely 1.48 children per woman in 2020, despite a record low number of abortions.
Amid declining fertility rates, Norway has, like its Nordic peers, increasingly attracted immigrants from countries near and far, partly to alleviate its demographics woes and to quench the market's thirst for labour. Today, the share of immigrants stands at 18.2 percent of Norway's 5.3 million population.