Number-crunchers at Norway’s state statistics bureau SSB (Statistics Norway) are surprised by how the Corona crisis has yieled an unexpected benefit: A baby boom that’s boosting otherwise sagging populations in a variety of outlying areas around the country.
The baby boom has been biggest in Nordland County, where births were up nearly 20 percent in the first half of 2021, compared to the same period last year. Nordland is an area that’s lost many of its residents to urban areas, and the rise in population is warmly welcome.
Norway’s population increases have recently been fueled mostly by immigration, but that came to a halt during the Corona crisis. Officials are pleased to see that birth rates are instead steady or climbing from Troms and Finnmark in the north to Agder in the south. They were highest in Nordland, followed by an 8.3 percent increase in Agder, 6.1 percent in Rogaland and 5.7 percent in Møre og Romsdal. Oslo’s births were up by 4.5 percent.
SSB noted that the increases this year began almost exactly nine months after Norway shut down on March 12, 2020. Instead of being frightened by all the uncertainty tied to the Corona pandemic, Norwegians seemed to embrace it quite literally.
“During earlier crises or uncertain economic times, the birth rates have declined,” Ane Margrete Tømmerås at SSB told state broadcaster NRK. “We expected the same during the Corona pandemic, so the fact that births not only have remained unchanged but have increased is very surprising.”
She notes, however, that Norway also had a baby boom in the 1990s, and many of the females born then are now “in the most usual age group to have children.” It’s thus difficult to claim that the pandemic made many people want to have children, she said. There’s no question, though, that the shutdown left most everyone spending much more time at home, and together.
Norway’s total population is now set at 5.4 million.