rudimentary country with sub-replacement level fertility (Population Statistics

rudimentary
definition of population change can be characterized as the change in the
number of people within a certain area during a specific time period (OECD
Statistics 2007). However, the causes of this change is correlated to a number
of fluctuating variables. Norway is a Scandinavian country with a population of
5.233 million (2016), with a population growth of 0.8% categorizing it as a
country with sub-replacement level fertility (Population Statistics
Norway, Ssb.no). With this being said, Norway has one of highest
fertility rates in Europe however this rate experienced a drop from 2009 with
1.98 to 1.71 in 2016 (Population Statistics Norway, Ssb.no). This
paper will discuss the long-term population change since the mid 19th
century within Norway, accounting for the factors of marriage, morality and fertility.

In doing this, theoretical frameworks discussing both cultural and economic
causes will be used to provide insight into Norwegian population trends.

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Within
this paper two theories will be consistently referred to and as such a brief
overview will be provided. It should be noted that other theories will be
discuss however, these two theories are the most recognized. The demographic
transition theory is a four stage model which aims to explaining the
progression from high death and birth rates to low death and birth rates in
countries as they transition from agrarian to industrialized modern societies (Ohlsson
1994, 18-19). Stage 1 is expressed as high birth rates, and death rates and
consistent with a pre-modern agrarian society (Ohlsson 1994,19). The second
phase explains the shift to when long term morality begins to fall due to
improved sanitation and food security (Ohlsson 1994,19). The third stage is
when birth rates fall due to access to contraception, urbanization and an
increase of women in the labour and education sectors (Ohlsson 1994,19). Finally
the fourth stage is when birth and death rates are low, and fertility rates may
drop below the population replacement level (as is the case with Norway)
(Ohlsson 1994,19). As a critique and extension of this theory, the second
demographic transition (herein referred to as SDT) was proposed by Lesthaeghe
and Van de Kaa in 1986 (Zaidi,and Morgon: 2017). This theory extends the work
of Becker to encompass the changes in sexual and reproductive behaviour from
1960s onward and discusses the impact that the decline in the fore mentioned
variables has had on the population (Lesthaeghe 2014, 18112) .

             The
decline in fertility is tied to the rise of modern society, and the
disillusionment of traditional agrarian societal standards (Ohlsson 1994,24).

Childbearing was once perceived as the focal point of a woman’s life, however it
shifted from an obligation to an option and subsequently fertility levels in
Norway have decreased (1994,30). The total fertility rates of Norwegian women,
the average number of children born to a women, have been on a steady decrease
beginning from 4.4 children in 1846-1850 to 1.71 children in 2016 (Population
Statistics Norway, Ssb.no). Fertility, prior to the 19th century was
once dictated, as expressed in stage 1 of the demographic transition theory:
that food supply and harvest conditions dictated the amount and spacing of
children (Ohlsson 1994,24). This caused a fluxuating trend with fertility rates
(SSB). However there began to be a clear trend emerging in regards to the
decline of fertility by the 1850s, albeit there is no one explanation but
numerous encompassing economic and culture rationales (Population
Statistics Norway, Ssb.no). The demographic transition theory posit that during
the passing from the second to third stage was when birth rates began to
decrease, occurring simultaneously with the modernization of the economy and as
an adaption of such (Ohlsson 1994, 24-29). Three conclusions emerged which are
viewed as generalized reasons for fertility decline: forms of birth control
became more socially acceptable, limiting family size became seen as
economically beneficially, and the personal desire for children become
important (Ohlsson 1994,29). The change in access and de-stigmatization of
fertility control allowed for the decline of natural fertility within marital
relationships, traditionally the only acceptable way to procreate. This posits
an important moment for fertility levels as it allowed women, and couples to
take control in terms of spacing or number of children (Hirschman 1994, 207).

Moreover, the increase of family planning policies in Norway and the rise of
reproductive health education has aided the fertility decline (Hirshman 1994,
221). Howard S. Becker’s ‘New Home Economic’ microeconomic theory of fertility
states that potential parents will view a child in terms of economic cost and
benefit analysis, factoring the quality and quantity trade-off of having fewer
or more children (Schultz 2011,5-6). Richard Easterlin and Timothy Crimmins
model of fertility establishes that fertility is dependent of relative income (Hill
2015,71).This last theory has been used to explain the increase of fertility
known as the ‘baby boom’ between the 1940s to 1970s when Norway experience a
steady rise in TFR, only to dip down again in the mid 1970s (Hill 2015, 71-73)
(Table 2). Women’s entry into the labour force was gradually increasing up
until the 1960’s when this rate become to exponentially increase (Table 3).

This provides evidence to the argument that the norm of raising and bearing
children as a women’s only job was changing (Ohlsson 1994,32-33). This delayed
entrance into childbearing, marriage/cohabitation, and an increase in wages and
career options for women all aiding in deterring women from having numerous or
any children (Lesthaeghe 2014). In 1970, 42% of Norwegian women (15-74 years
old) took place in the labour force and this has increased to 71% in 2008 (Population
Statistics Norway, Ssb.no) (Figure 3). Furthermore, not only is a child an
economical investment, but an emotional commitment as well- studies show that
within the past two decades parents are spending more time with their children
(Schultz 2011,1-3). Potential parents must know factor in this indirect cost of having children (Schultz 2011, 1-3). These three
assumptions of fertility decline align with Lesthaeghe and Van de Kaa
transitional theory, and aligns with their criteria of the SDT (Lesthaeghe
2014).

The
concept of marriage and family have undergone extensive changes since the mid
19th century, the traditional standards for familial institutions once
revolved around the terms of childbearing and economic necessity (Hirschmann
1994, 217). However the effect of cultural and economic changes has had a large
impact of the trend of marriage in Norway. The divorce rates between 1871-75
was 0.004% whereas between 1986-1990 they were 40%, and this increase has been
a constant from the 1850s to present day (Population Statistics Norway, Ssb.no).

Marriage between the mid 19th to mid 20th century saw a
shift from an institution based on economic and reproductive necessity to one
where emphasis was placed on emotional satisfaction (Hirschman 1994, 217-218). Along
with this, and the legalization of divorce in Norway in 1909, the cultural
stigma around divorce began to slowly deteriorate (Sverdup 2002,2). The mid-20th
century saw a significant increase of divorce from the period of 1940-1945
onwards which can be accounted for by the continuing cultural acceptance of
divorce (Population Statistics Norway, Ssb.no). As
well the increased emphasis on self-fulfillment and marriage as a choice not a
necessity, specifically for women altered the rate of marriages (Hirschman
1994, 217-218). These factors has led to rise of cohabitation instead of
marriage in Norway. In 2016, a total of 22,500 individuals were married,
approximately 1,000 fewer than the average than the average since 2006 (Population
Statistics Norway, Ssb.no). In contrast to this marriage decline, the
proportion of cohabitants across all age groups (excluding 20-24 year olds)
have increase significantly from 2005 to 2016 (Population Statistics
Norway, Ssb.no). Moreover, children were once only socially
acceptable to have within the confines of marriage, however as the terms of
childbearing have shifted marriage is no longer a pre-requisite Stanfors 6. For
example, the rate of births into a marriage were lower than to a cohabitating
couple in 2016 (Figure 4) (Population Statistics Norway, Ssb.no).  Another population trend to be noted is
that increase of the mean age of marriage for both men and women. The rise of
women in the workforce and educational institutions eliminated the narrow
option for women during the 19th and early 20th century (Schultz
2001,1). As the dual earner model rose, and the male as the breadwinner
framework declined, a woman’s value was no longer seen in terms of marriage
market value but instead as human capital in the workforce (Stanfors 2017,4-5).

This results in marriage no longer being needed for a women’s and children’s
economic security (Stanfors 2017,6). Furthermore, as emphasis is placed of
self-fulfillment from marriage, the search process for a partner becomes more
selective as Oppenheimer states in his theory of union formation as a search
process (Oppenheimer 1988,564). It posits that
individuals no longer marry the first option but wait to find the best
maximization option in terms of economics and emotional support and engagement
(Oppenheimer 1988,565). This intertwines with the increase of life
expectancy and the rise of the medium age of marriage of Norwegians (Figure
5).  Due to this increase,
individuals can now focus on a career and education before deciding to get
married and start a family. As well, as advancements in reproductive
technologies, a women’s biological clock for fertility is no longer immediate
as it was 50 or 100 years ago.

Norway
can be characterized as an aging population. In 1950, 8% of the population were
aged 67 or over, whereas in 2016 it rose to 13%. Furthermore it is forecasted
to continue to increase to 15% in 2020 and 22% in 2060 (Population
Statistics Norway, Ssb.no). The rise in life expectancy has grown consistently
since the mid-19th century (Figure 6), however there is much debate
as to the cause of this. The transitional theory states that during the
transition to stage 2, morality rates drop due to the increase of food
security, medicine and adequate living conditions (Ohlsson 1994,19).

Furthermore, the increase of breastfeeding and infant health lowered the infant
morality rate in the mid 19th century which increased total
population growth (Ohlsson 1994, 22). As the transitional theory posits, Norway
is now in stage 4 creating an economic burden on the working population and
poses questions for policy makers on how to deal with this in regards to health
care and employment (Ohlsson 1994,34).  

Norway’s
population is forecasted to increase to approximately 5.9 million inhabitants
in 2030, an increase of 680,000 (11.5%) from 5.22 million inhabitants in 2016 (Population
Statistics Norway, Ssb.no). While this statistic would be a contradiction to
previous population trends, these previous analysis’s have not taken into
account the variable of immigration which within the past 10 years has risen
inextricably. (Population Statistics Norway, Ssb.no). It
is important to account for not only economic and cultural explanations for
population change, but global shifts when determining trends in population
change. It has become clear that the narrow and static population theories
developed in the 20th century do not provide a comprehensive and
flexible analysis for the dynamic population trends occurring the 21st
century in which an aging society and low birth rates, and increased migration
must be addressed. 

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