Uncertainty and lifestyle as main reasons to postpone having (more) children in Finland

Fertility has declined in Finland in the 2010s, but reasons for this decline are poorly understood. How Finns explain their decisions to postpone or even renounce childbearing during fertility decline? According to the recent research published in Marriage & Family Review, the main reasons to postpone or not to have (more) children were uncertain life situation and lifestyle preferences.

The study is based on representative survey data from the Finnish Family Barometers in 2015 and 2018. The participants were men and women aged 20-44 who were not planning to have (more) children in the near future. The study identified three main groups to postpone or not to have (more) children: uncertain life situation, lifestyle preferences, and completed fertility.

The study further examined which groups of people are more likely to report which factors to postpone or renounce childbearing (based on their socio-demographic characteristics), as well as whether the recent sociocultural changes, such as a wide spread of social media use and increased work-related attitudes (“workism”) play any role in reporting these reasons.

Results indicated that participants with a more stable life situation, infrequent social media use, and lower work-orientation were less likely to report uncertainty as a reason to postpone or renounce childbearing. On the other hand, childless participants, especially women, who used social media frequently and were more work-oriented were more likely to list lifestyle preferences as a reason to postpone having (more) children.

“This study provides the first systematic examination of reasons with which young adults explain their decision to postpone or renounce childbearing during fertility decline in Finland in the 2010s”, explains author Kateryna Savelieva from the University of Helsinki.

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Savelieva, K, Jokela, M., Rotkirch, A. (2022). Reasons to postpone childbearing during fertility decline in Finland. Marriage & Family Review (Published online Jun 2022), 124. https://doi.org/10.1080/01494929.2022.2083283