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Swedes are Europe's third best baby-makers

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Swedes enjoy some of Europe's most generous family policies. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
08:22 CET+01:00
Swedes are Europe's third busiest baby-makers, according to fresh statistics. But the birth rate appears to be dropping in the Nordic country.

Sweden's fertility rate landed at 1.88 in 2014, according to the latest figures released by the EU's number crunching agency Eurostat.

The report put France's birth rate of 2.01 in the top of the league table, ahead of Ireland's 1.94. The UK was fourth in Europe with a fertility rate of 1.81.

"The good result for France, but also for Europe's northwestern countries in general, is explained by more generous family and social policies than found in southern and eastern European countries," Parisian demographics researcher Gilles Pison told the AFP news agency.

The lowest fertility rate was observed in Portugal at 1.2 births, just ahead of Greece, Cyprus and Spain.

"These countries were hit hard by the economic crisis and there lacked incentives to build families," the researcher of Tuesday's report said.

In real figures, 114,907 babies were born in Sweden in 2014, compared to 91,466 in 2001 – a 25.6 percent increase.

However, if you take a closer look at more recent figures for Sweden, the fertility rate has slowly declined since 2010 when 1.98 babies were born per woman, according to Eurostat.

The country also stood out in the report for its first-time mothers giving birth at a high mean age, compared to the rest of the continent. Women in Sweden were on average 29.2 years old when they gave birth to their first child, compared to the EU average of 28.8 years, but behind Italy's 30.7 years.

READ ALSO: Why is Sweden so great for expat families?

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Swedes enjoy some of the most generous family policies in Europe, with 16 months' parental leave to share between mums and dads and low-cost childcare. From April single women will be allowed to apply for state-funded IVF fertility treatment.

Across the EU, over 5.1 million babies were born in 2014. The total EU population that year stood at 506,944,075 according to Eurostat.

Experts usually say that a fertility rate of 2.1 is needed to maintain a constant population size in the absence of migration.

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