Exploring Norway's Fertility, Work, and Family Policy Trends

image of Exploring Norway's Fertility, Work, and Family Policy Trends

Like other Nordic countries Norway has been investing heavily in family policy to enable combining work and family life. Nevertheless, between 2009 and 2022 the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in Norway dropped from 2 children to 1.4 children per woman. What is happening, and why? Can Norwegian parents still reconcile work and family commitments? What role do demographic trends play for the future of the Norwegian society? Should we worry? These are some of the questions that this study addresses. It illustrates various aspects of fertility trends, as well as changes in the Norwegian labour market as well as in Norway’s comprehensive system of public family support. The study also looks at social attitudes and how these might be affecting family formation and fertility trends. The final chapter projects demographic, economic, fiscal and social outcomes under different fertility trend scenarios.


How perceptions, norms, and attitudes can affect family formation in Norway

Since there is little evidence that family policy or observed economic outcomes offer clear explanations for the decline in birth rates in the 2010s, researchers have started to consider other factors that may have played a role. There is some evidence that perceptions about the current economic situation in households and in the world can have some impact on fertility choices. Equally, norms and attitudes have shifted from being pro-family to being more in favour of fulfilling personal potential on a wider scale and this can have had a role in dampening young adults’ desire to have children. The exact role of subjective factors such as perceptions, norms, and attitudes is notoriously hard to measure quantitatively. Nevertheless, recent country-specific and comparative studies have started mapping how subjective factors may have played a role in the fall in births in many OECD countries since the financial crisis. This chapter discusses the role that perceptions, norms, and attitudes may play in family formation and outlines some of the recent findings in this research.


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