Sweden is in a baby boom. People can’t get daycare spots. Apartment buildings built for seniors fill up with families, leaving them to throw together makeshift playgrounds. There are strollers everywhere, clogging up sidewalks and filling up buses.
Today I read that the birthrate has risen to 1.91 children per woman, which is still below “replacement rate” of 2.2, but is awfully high for a Europe currently in a demographic free fall.
It’s not all the amazing parental leave either, since the lowest Swedish birthrate in recent times came in 1999, when the parental leave was well established, if almost exclusively still taken by women.
I read somewhere else, a while ago, that it seems there are two things that make for a high birthrate in the western world – great benefits or societal flexibility. Sweden has got the great benefits.
America has the flexibility. Women can leave the work force then return, work part time, all that. Of course, I see it mostly as flexible ways for mothers to get the shaft. But, there are no maternal revolts in the US, so who am I to say.
And the United States is the only western country to reach that magical replacement rate, and it’s got that even without immigration.
Of course, why reach replacement rate? Who cares if there are less Italians or Hungarians or Swedes in 100 years? Of course, no one wants the societal upheavals and economic distress along the way. But wouldn’t it be easier on the environment? Don’t we want the world population to stabilize?