Bring on the babies: A quick look at the birthrate in Denmark

Something I've been after for quite some time is some statistics on the birth rate in Denmark, which I finally stumbled upon at www.populationeurope.com.

You see, I'm curious because although the endless talk in the media across Europe, when it comes to population, is about how the population in basically every European country is set to drop owing to ever declining birthrates (not taking into account immigration, of course), I've long been wondered how this could be true of Denmark.

After all, there is a seemingly endless parade of kids running around Copenhagen with their parents (or getting pushed around in baby carriages). To put it more bluntly, in Copenhagen BABIES AND YOUNG CHILDREN ARE EVERYWHERE! I've never seen anything like it in any other major city. Anywhere.

And if it is like this all over urban Copenhagen, where the birthrate should be at the lowest relative to smaller cities and more rural areas, how must the birthrate be in the rest of the country? Which has lead me to wonder how Denmark could possibly be suffering from the same declining birthrate trend that is so much talked about?

If you want to download your own detailed copy detailing the current demographic trends across Europe (including non-EU countries), you can do so here. It makes for interesting reading - I learned a few things.

Firstly, Denmark with a birth rate in 2004 of 1.78 children per woman (which when statistical manipulated for complex reasons best summed up as 'because sometimes it's necessary' becomes 2.0 children per woman). That's pretty close to that magic 2.1 replacement number, so often talked about. It is also a number well above the EU-25 country average birth rate of 1.5 children per woman (or, if you prefer the statistically adjusted European average of 1.67).

Secondly, of the more developed European countries, only France and Ireland have a higher birthrate - with Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands almost at the same level as Denmark. Funny isn't it, that all the so-called 'socialist' countries have such a high birthrate? Ireland being the exception, a non-socialist country, likely has it's own explanation - it is still catching up economically with the leading countries in Europe, and has had a historically high birthrate - one that has been dropping radically over the last years, so expect it to leave the 'high birthrate club' very shortly.

Thirdly, and this is rather significant, since 1990 Denmark's birth rate as increased (from 1.67 to 1.78). Only France, the Netherlands and Finland have experienced an increase in birth rates over this time, the rest of the developed European countries have seen a decrease.

Finally, and purely out of interest, the average age at birth of mothers in Denmark was 28.4 years old (in 2004).

I've long noted on this blog (for example, here) that Denmark is a pretty good place to have kids. And there are reasons for this. Unlike in many countries, there is thankfully NO stigma, or undue 'pressure', a woman feels for getting pregant before finishing her studies and establishing a career (or for being pregnant but not being married). Before she has a steady job, regular salary and a ring on her finger, if you prefer.

Because in Denmark, sensibly, it is assumed that as long as you support such studying mothers (and, of course, make sure the father's pay their bit as well), they'll surely manage to establish a solid career in due time - once they are able to put the kids into daycare (usually after about a year) and get their studies finished. It doesn't really matter if there is a husband, or equally as likely in Denmark - a boyfriend, at home - it's assumed these young mothers will generally do just fine regardless. And by in large they do.

Funny that - a few other countries could surely learn a thing or two from this simple but effective approach.

In fact, you might be saying to yourself, that it seems like a simple and screamingly obvious way to raise a declining birth rate, doesn't it? Especially if you are a government that professes to care about such things, as many claim to. It takes a solid daycare system, as Denmark has, and the assurance that mothers will receive an adequate level of social support while they are caring for their babies.

Because in the long run these mothers will more than pay that support back in taxes - and if they somehow don't (yes, highly unlikely...), well, their kids surely will. So it's a pretty safe assumption to make. And you want them to succeed for exactly this reason.

Because when you imply (by offering wholely inadequate support) that young mothers who are single, or at least haven't quite established a career, are stupid for getting pregnant so young - and leave them to suffer for it - well, in the end everybody suffers from this approach, don't they?

1 Response to "Bring on the babies: A quick look at the birthrate in Denmark"

  1. Isabel says:

    There is definitely a baby boom going on here! Its almost the rule rather than the acception....

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