Mini baby boom - 60,000 babies could be born in Finland this year
Increasing numbers of families get third or fourth child
If the present birth rate continues in the coming months, 60,000 babies could be born in Finland this year - the greatest number since 1996.
Last year there were 57,745 live births in Finland, and the birth rate has remained at about the same level over a period of ten years.
Experts say that it is difficult to give any specific reasons for this miniature baby boom. One basic rule has been that numerically small generations give birth to small generations. When the children of the 1970s reached child-bearing age, they ended up having fairly few children themselves.
There are certainly a number of other reasons for the variation - mainly economic trends.
Noted demographer, Professor Kari Pitkänen, points out that the fluctuations in the number of babies born are not ultimately very great.
Pitkänen recalls the early 1970s, when the postwar baby boom generation began reaching the age at which they would start having children. At the time, headlines screamed that the large generations had betrayed Finland.
This was not actually the case. All that happened was that women slightly delayed their decisions to have children. Soon the columns on birthrate graphs started to rise, and praise was again heaped on the new mothers.
The number of children that Finnish women have during their fertile years has remained fairly constant for a long time: an average of 1.9 babies per mother by the age of 35.
The situation in Finland is different from that in Italy, Spain, and Greece, where the average number of children per woman is significantly lower. This can be attributed to the difficulties that women in those countries have in dealing with both work and a family.
The birthrate is also low in many former socialist countries.
The age of women having children is no longer rising as it used to. Whereas the average age of having a child in the early 1970s was between 22 and 23, it had risen to 27 in 2000. Now it stands at 27.7.
Researcher Anneli Miettinen of the Family Federation of Finland says that a likely reason for the slowdown in the trend to delay having children is that at around 30, women start to think about their biological clock.
She also points to two different trends in family planning. Some women are having children either late in life or never. On the other hand, the number of families with three or four children is increasing.
There are no reliable studies on whether or not the trend toward larger families is the result of greater economic security, or if the linkage between large families and poverty is still valid.
Miettinen feels that there is some indication that many of those who consider having a third child do so out of a sense of economic security, while those with less disposable income avoid having a third or fourth child.