"Norway needs more children! I don’t think I need to tell anyone how this is done," Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg said cheekily, but she was raising a real concern.
The Nordic countries were long a bastion of strong fertility rates on an Old Continent that is rapidly getting older. But they are now experiencing a decline that threatens their welfare model, which is funded by taxpayers.
In Norway, Finland and Iceland, birth rates dropped to historic lows in 2017, with 1.49 to 1.71 children born per woman. Just a few years earlier, their birth rates hovered close to the 2.1 level required for their populations to remain stable.
The Nordic region boasts a wealth of family-friendly initiatives, such as flexible working hours, a vast network of affordable daycares and generous parental leave systems.
When all that is still not enough to encourage people to have more children, immigration can be a lifeline － or a threat, depending on the point of view.（AFP）
cheeky：形容詞，厚顏無恥的；調皮的。例句：His cheeky comments aggravated me.（他厚顏無恥的評論惹惱了我。）
bastion：名詞，堡壘。例句：This tiny island is a bastion of democracy against totalitarianism.（這座小島是抵禦極權主義的堡壘。）
hover：動詞，盤旋；徘徊。例句：A rescue helicopter kept hovering above the house.（一架救援直升機持續在房屋上空盤旋。）