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Higher birth rates among Sweden's foreign-born

Higher birth rates among Sweden's foreign-born

Published: 03 Nov 2008 12:43 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Nov 2008 12:43 GMT+01:00

Foreign-born women living in Sweden are giving birth to more children on average than women born in Sweden, new statistics show.

A study by Statistics Sweden finds that foreign-born women had a fertility rate of 2.21 children per woman, while Swedish-born women reproduced at a rate of 1.82 children per woman.

Sweden’s overall fertility rate in 2007 was 1.88 children per woman, below the rate of 2.1 children per woman required to replace the population.

Since 1980, the percentage of births registered in Sweden to mothers born outside the country has nearly doubled from 12 percent to 22 percent.

Part of the increase is thought to be related to the increase in the number of foreign born women of childbearing age which has risen from 11 percent of women living in Sweden aged 20 to 40-years-old in 1980 to 18 percent in 2007.

According to the report, Sweden’s foreign-born population has increased by more than one million people in the last 50 years and numbered about 1.2 million people in 2007 out of Sweden’s total population of just under 9.2 million.

Statistics Sweden projects that Sweden’s foreign-born population will reach 1.7 million by 2050.

Entitled ‘Childbearing among native and foreign-born’, the study divides foreign-born women into six different categories corresponding to their country of origin: other Nordic countries, EU countries other than Nordic countries, European countries except the EU and Nordic countries, and countries outside Europe with high, medium or low level of development based on the United Nation’s Human Development Index (HDI).

Women from most of the groupings were found to have a greater likelihood of giving birth to a third or fourth child compared to women born in Sweden.

The study’s authors attribute the difference in part to the tendency of newly arrived immigrants to have children shortly after their arrival and in part because some groups of immigrant women are more likely to start having children earlier in life, as well as a tendency for women in Sweden to only have two children.

In general, the fertility rates of women born in other Nordic countries, EU countries other than the Nordics, and highly developed countries outside of Europe such as the United States, Chile, and South Korea, mirror the fertility rates of Swedish-born women quite closely since 1990.

Women born in European countries outside the EU, however, have historically had higher fertility rates than women born in Sweden, as have women born in low and medium developed countries outside of Europe.

The group with the highest fertility rate includes women born in countries with low-levels of economic development, although rates vary greatly from country to country.

Women from Somalia, for example, have the highest fertility rate, averaging 3.9 children per woman in 2007. However, women born in Ethiopia have a fertility rate of only 2.2 children per woman.

According to Statistics Sweden, however, childbearing patterns for foreign-born women are demonstrating a convergence with those of women born in Sweden.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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