Ten per hour: Swiss birthrate hits a high

On the rise again: the birthrate in Switzerland Keystone

Switzerland is experiencing a new baby boom – bigger than it’s been in over two decades. The average number of children per woman has also hit a new high.

This content was published on October 24, 2016 - 11:53

In 2015, there were 86,559 babies born in Switzerland – about ten per hour, and the highest rate since 1993. On average, each woman in Switzerland now has 1.54 children. That's compared with a record low of 1.38 children per woman in the early 2000s.

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Francois Höpflinger, a family sociologist at the University of Zurich, told the Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper that the Swiss baby boom can be attributed at least partially to a feeling of wanting to focus on the family in a period of global uncertainty.

“In an uncertain, fast-moving world, the family becomes a sort of island,” he said. “Traditional values are becoming more important.”

Höpflinger also pointed out that Swiss cities are experiencing a sort of mini baby boom, with young couples – the children of the post-war “baby boomer” generation – choosing to remain in urban areas instead of moving to suburbs. Foreign women tend to have more children than Swiss women and also tend to live in cities, which also contributes to the urban baby boom.

However, overall, rural areas still see the most children born per woman, at 1.77 in the Appenzell region compared to 1.55 in Zurich or 1.37 in Basel.

With its increasing birthrate, Switzerland is catching up with Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Norway, where the birthrates are 1.8 and 1.9 per woman, respectively. However, Höpfliger told the Schweiz am Sonntag that Switzerland’s family policies need to evolve in the same direction in order for the birthrate to reach similar numbers. Child care remains expensive in Switzerland, and the Swiss government spends 1.6% of GDP on families compared to an average of 4% in Scandinavian countries.

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