Below is a complimentary Demography Unplugged research note written by Hedgeye Demography analyst Neil Howe. Click here to learn more and subscribe.

Nordic Counties Avoid Pandemic Baby Bust - 1 28 2022 10 44 29 AM

During the pandemic, Nordic countries have seen a surprise baby bump. As births cratered across the rest of Europe, countries like Iceland and Finland saw birthrates climb by several percentage points. (National Geographic)

NH: Since the pandemic began, most developed countries have experienced a pandemic baby bust. But the Nordic nations have largely avoided this phenomenon. (See “60,000 Missing Births?” and “Europe’s Ongoing Birth Decline.”) 

In Finland, between January and November 2021, the number of births increased by +7.1% compared to the same period in 2020. Norway experienced a +5.6% rise in births in the first three quarters of 2021. And last year in Iceland, there were more births in the 3rd quarter than in any quarter since 2010. Denmark and Sweden also saw slight increases.

So why aren't births falling? Less Covid is the biggest reason. In Finland, Norway, and Iceland, C19 deaths per million people range from 119 to 311. In both Italy and the UK, deaths per million are over 2,000.

In our 2021 World Demographic Outlook presentation, we discussed a study that found an inverse link between the number of Covid-19 cases/deaths and the birthrate. Thus the smaller death toll probably kept births elevated. (See slides 26-28 in "Global Demography Review.") 

I also suspect the higher C19 deaths per million in Denmark (614) and Sweden (1,543) explain these countries’ lower birth increases.

Nordic Counties Avoid Pandemic Baby Bust - Jan25

Covid-19 may explain why these countries didn't have a baby bust. But what explains the baby boomlet?

Maybe we should look at these countries' very ample family leave policies, among the most generous in the world. Each country offers at least 11 months of paid leave. Payments have a high cap and, depending on the country, can range from 53% to 100% of a parent’s prior income.

If you are thinking of having a child, a turbulent economy may provide the opportunity you are looking for. You have plenty of free time, and the government will support your income.

The Nordic countries also saw a rise in births during the GFC.

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Neil Howe is a renowned authority on generations and social change in America. An acclaimed bestselling author and speaker, he is the nation's leading thinker on today's generations—who they are, what motivates them, and how they will shape America's future.

A historian, economist, and demographer, Howe is also a recognized authority on global aging, long-term fiscal policy, and migration. He is a senior associate to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., where he helps direct the CSIS Global Aging Initiative.

Howe has written over a dozen books on generations, demographic change, and fiscal policy, many of them with William Strauss. Howe and Strauss' first book, Generations is a history of America told as a sequence of generational biographies. Vice President Al Gore called it "the most stimulating book on American history that I have ever read" and sent a copy to every member of Congress. Newt Gingrich called it "an intellectual tour de force." Of their book, The Fourth Turning, The Boston Globe wrote, "If Howe and Strauss are right, they will take their place among the great American prophets."

Howe and Strauss originally coined the term "Millennial Generation" in 1991, and wrote the pioneering book on this generation, Millennials Rising. His work has been featured frequently in the media, including USA Today, CNN, the New York Times, and CBS' 60 Minutes.

Previously, with Peter G. Peterson, Howe co-authored On Borrowed Time, a pioneering call for budgetary reform and The Graying of the Great Powers with Richard Jackson.

Howe received his B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and later earned graduate degrees in economics and history from Yale University.