Alarmed by the declining fertility rate among Danish people, that nation’s government has started a program in the school system’s sex education curriculum which will encourage young people to have children before it’s too late.
Traditionally, sex education in Denmark—and most other Western nations—has focused on preventing pregnancy, and the results are apparent: in 2012, the national birth rate was at just 1.7 children per couple, well below the statistically required replacement rate of 2.1 per couple.
As part of the campaign, young people will be warned about waiting until they are in their thirties to start a family, the Danish Family Planning Association (Sex & Samfund) announced.
“When you look at sex education for the oldest students, it’s largely about how not to have children, so there is a focus on prevention, the use of contraceptives and the option of abortion. That means that young people lack knowledge on fertility and pregnancy,” Sex & Samfund spokesman Bjarne Christensen told a Danish newspaper.
The education program will now develop its education material to teach students that women’s fertility already begins to decline in their twenties.
Christensen said that many young people are unaware that fertility starts to decline so early among women.
“That lack of knowledge can mean that people end up not having children or not having the number of children they want,” he said.
An initiative to teach young people about fertility and pregnancy was welcomed by Søren Ziebe, the head of the fertility clinic at Copenhagen’s Rigshospitalet.
“Up until now, our biological expiration date has been overlooked in our zeal to avoid having children when we don’t want to have them. On average in Denmark, we begin to establish a family when we are around 30 years old. By then half of our reproduction capabilities have disappeared and that means that some people have too short of a time span to have children or have the amount of children they’d like to have,” Ziebe was quoted as saying.
The average age for becoming a first-time parent in Denmark is 29.1 years, a full five years older than in 1970.
Currently, up to 10 percent of all children born in Denmark were conceived only after fertility treatment.
According to the fertility awareness organization Dansk Fertilitetsselskab, 20 percent of Danish men never become fathers while 12 percent of Danish woman either never have children or don’t have the number of children they’d like to have.
* According to 2012 figures from Statistics Denmark, 89.6 percent of Denmark’s population of 5,580,516 was of “Danish descent,” defined as having at least one parent who was born in Denmark and has Danish citizenship.
The remaining 10.4 percent, or 590,000 individuals, are immigrants officially classified as follows: 200,000 have a “Western” background (Norway, Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the UK, Poland and Iceland; 390,000 have a “non-Western” background (Turkey, Iraq, Jews, Romani, Somalia, Pakistan, Iran and Thailand; all other countries).