Life

Saturday 23 February 2019

'Norway needs more children' - Prime minister issues desperate plea to its citizens to have more babies

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Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Earlier this month Norway’s prime minister issued a desperate plea to its citizens to have more children.

She raised concerns over the amount of children being born amid fears that there will be fewer people of working age to pay taxes.

Norway is known for its generous system of parental leave and heavily subsidised childcare, all paid for by very high taxes.

But in the first three months of last year, Norway recorded the lowest birth rate in 33 years.

And the government’s fear is that there won’t be enough people working to fund its welfare model.

“Norway needs more children,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said. “I don't think I need to tell anyone how this is done.” 

“In the coming decades, we will encounter problems with this model.”

“There will be fewer young people to bear the increasingly heavy burden of the welfare state.”

Read More: Fairytale in Finland: Why Ireland needs to look towards Scandinavia to fix our messy childcare system

Norway ranked the happiest country in the world in the 2017 UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network's (SDSN) 2018 World Happiness Report. This was based on its GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, social freedom, generosity and absence of corruption.

Ireland still enjoys a relatively young population, and its fertility rate (the number of babies among women of child-bearing age) was 1.8 in 2016, the third highest just after France and Sweden.

According to economist Dan O’Brien the trend of falling fertility rates throughout Europe have spawned many fears of 'demographic crises' and 'pensions time-bombs'. 

“The ageing of societies will undoubtedly create economic and societal problems and tensions,” he wrote in last week’s Irish Independent.

“For now, Ireland enjoys a relatively young population. Much of Europe does not. It'll be worth paying attention to how they tackle the challenges that will arise. Their demographic present may be our future.”

Read More: Dan O'Brien: 'The 'baby boom' didn't last - but Ireland's 'baby bust' appears certain to stay despite buoyant economy'

Read More: Dan O'Brien: 'High cost of living and poor services are a big problem - but they're not to blame for our low birth rate'

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