What the Faroe Islands could teach Europe about fertility


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“If you realise at 7am that your child is sick, you can call a relative and the problem is solved by 8am,” he says. “Unfortunately, that’s not something that other countries can easily copy.”

The third factor is however something that can be influenced through policy: “Faroese employers are traditionally extremely accommodating towards parents,” he says. 

“There’s a mutual understanding between employers and employees about the flexibility required for bringing up children. That means it’s widely accepted if you need to take time off to care for a sick child or leave early because they injured themselves in nursery,” Strøm says. 

Heri Á Rógvi, an economist, shares the same sentiment but highlights that part-time work is still much more common among women and that those seeking high-flying jobs might struggle to feel at home with the traditional Faroese values.  

“There are some signs that women who are more career-driven or just less keen on having children end up emigrating. So there’s still work to be done,” he says.

Lív Zachariassen Marquardt, a 37-year-old mother of three, moved to Kvívík with her husband after living in Denmark for many years. She works for a shipping company in the capital half an hour away. 

“My employer has never questioned me or made comments such as ‘really, again?’ if I had to stay home with a sick child. They even host regular Christmas and summer parties for the kids,” she says. “It makes me want to be flexible in return too.” 

Some 89pc of Faroese people aged 16 to 64 are in the workforce, the highest in Europe and significantly above the OECD average of 72pc. Strøm says the high numbers of parents in work means there is a greater understanding of parents’ needs. 

Magna Eliana Mørkøre, a 36-year-old mother of four, works full-time in management for the national health service. Her partner, an electrician, also has a full working week. “Obviously, having four children is stressful… but it’s been pretty manageable. We get good support,” she says.


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