The WHO defines the crude birth rate as the total num­ber of chil­dren a woman could have dur­ing her life­time if she were sub­ject to the pre­vail­ing age-spe­cif­ic fer­til­i­ty rate in the pop­u­la­tion. The TFR is falling in most parts of the world, with the largest decline seen in Europe. Sev­er­al fac­tors con­tribute to low birth rates in Euro­pean coun­tries. One of the main rea­sons is the chang­ing social role of women. The ris­ing cost of hav­ing chil­dren also pre­vents many cou­ples from hav­ing off­spring. Some also choose to live with­out chil­dren in order to save the plan­et’s resources or achieve their own goals in life. While almost all coun­tries in Europe are on a down­ward trend in fer­til­i­ty rates, some coun­tries are more fer­tile than oth­ers.

birth rate in Europe

Entry relat­ed to place: Europe

1. France

France has an aver­age of 1.92 live births per woman and is con­sid­ered the most pro­lif­ic coun­try in Europe. How­ev­er, this does not mean that the birth rate in France is ris­ing. Every­thing is just the oppo­site. In 2017, 767,000 chil­dren were born in the coun­try, which is 17,000 less than in 2016, i.e. 2.1%. The age of French moth­ers is also steadi­ly increas­ing. The aver­age French woman now prefers to have her first child at 30.6, com­pared to 29.8 ten years ago. France’s aging pop­u­la­tion is also at an all-time high, pos­ing a major socioe­co­nom­ic chal­lenge as a small­er “younger” work­force must sup­port a grow­ing group of retirees. A whop­ping 19.6% of the French pop­u­la­tion is made up of peo­ple over the age of 65.

See also
The best masters of tilt photography

2. Sweden

Swe­den ranks sec­ond on this list, with an aver­age of 1.85 live births per woman. How­ev­er, like France, Swe­den is also see­ing a decline in the birth rate. In 2014, the birth rate in the coun­try was 1.88. Swe­den has some of the best fam­i­ly rules in Europe. Gen­er­ous ben­e­fits are giv­en to Swedish par­ents of new­borns. Both par­ents receive leave in the coun­try. Inex­pen­sive child care also con­tributes to the birth of a child. The coun­try even offers state-fund­ed arti­fi­cial insem­i­na­tion pro­ce­dures to its cit­i­zens.

3. Ireland

Ire­land has the third high­est birth rate in Europe. In 2016, the coun­try reg­is­tered an aver­age of 1.81 live births per woman. How­ev­er, the birth rate in Ire­land has also been steadi­ly declin­ing in recent years. The birth rate in the coun­try in 1970 reached 3.85. In 2012, this fig­ure was 1.98 live births per woman.

4. Denmark

While it is the fourth most pro­lif­ic coun­try in Europe, the birth rate for Dan­ish women is still low. The birth rate in the coun­try is 1.79 live births per woman. Although 65,000 chil­dren were born in Den­mark in 2008, only 57,916 births were reg­is­tered in 2012. Research shows that Den­mark’s pop­u­la­tion growth rate is insuf­fi­cient to sus­tain the cur­rent pop­u­la­tion. Every fifth cou­ple in the coun­try prefers to be child­less, or remain child­less.

5. UK

In the UK, the birth rate is the same as in Den­mark. There were 657,076 live births in Eng­land and Wales in 2018, down 3.2% from 2017 and 10% down from 2012. The fig­ures also show that the birth rate of women born out­side the UK has also declined in the coun­try. The UK birth rate peaked in 1947 and has since declined by around 45.9%.

See also
Quirky cave hotels

6. Iceland

At an aver­age of 1.74 live births per woman, Ice­land has the sixth high­est birth rate in Europe. Just four decades ago, the coun­try had a birth rate of 2.9 chil­dren per woman. Although the num­ber of births in this island coun­try is decreas­ing, the pop­u­la­tion is liv­ing longer. So the effec­tive pop­u­la­tion stays pret­ty much the same. How­ev­er, this may change in the future as the birth rate falls low­er and low­er and the pop­u­la­tion is also expect­ed to decline.

Consequences of low birth rates

Low fer­til­i­ty rates in Euro­pean coun­tries may have sev­er­al socio-eco­nom­ic con­se­quences in the future. As the young pop­u­la­tion shrinks, the labor force need­ed to main­tain a sta­ble income stream will not be enough. The aging pop­u­la­tion will increase, but it will be dif­fi­cult to main­tain. In addi­tion, it is becom­ing increas­ing­ly impor­tant to import labor from oth­er coun­tries. Immi­grants may not accept Euro­pean cul­tures, and impor­tant ele­ments of such cul­tures may grad­u­al­ly dis­ap­pear.

On the oth­er hand, low­er fer­til­i­ty rates allow women more free­dom to pur­sue their career goals. Indi­vid­u­al­is­tic goals are eas­i­er to achieve in the absence of depen­dents. Most coun­tries with low­er fer­til­i­ty rates are the most advanced in gen­der equal­i­ty, wom­en’s empow­er­ment, lit­er­a­cy and pros­per­i­ty. Anoth­er recent­ly devel­oped view is that a small­er pop­u­la­tion puts less pres­sure on the envi­ron­ment and is good for the plan­et.