Take Finland. Having a baby there has been described as being “almost free,” all new moms get a “baby box” (containing 64 items including clothes, care products, and a first reading book), parents get nearly a combined full year of parental leave, and the government provides free universal daycare from eight months until kids start grammar school. Pretty sweet deal.
Taken all together, it’s a wish list of public policies that one might think would make parenting easier and more affordable — and, even, encourage parents to have more kids than otherwise. And yet Finland’s total fertility rate was 1.32 in 2022, the lowest birth rate since the country started keeping track in 1776.
[The population replacement rate is 2.1.]
Fertility is falling. That’s well known… It’s falling much faster than anyone had realized before. And it’s falling at a speed that is going to fundamentally transform many of our societies and the planet as a whole in ways that most policymakers are not really taking into consideration. So, it’s the speed. It’s not that it’s falling; it is falling immensely fast.
Source: James Pethokoukis