Our society is changing, and with it the way we convey our ideas, emotions and of course, how we commit to other people to create a family. These groups are a basic social unit that we, as human beings, cannot go without. Regardless of the type of family, we cannot deny these structures are highly affected by the environment and economic or political circumstances. So, what is the current status of families in the Nordic nation? Is it a good place for a family? Is Iceland for children? Let’s dig in into these questions and find out!
A family is the primary source of protection and communication in a child’s life. Even though every family has their own rules and routines, they are a basic element to establish traditions throughout history. The importance of family is well rooted in our genes and culture. This is no small wonder, as it is through our family and loved ones that culture is passed on. In this particular Nordic nation, customs and habits are essential in Iceland’s society. Being a tiny country with just over 300.000 inhabitants, the sense of belonging and a common linking culture is obvious.
In Iceland, rigid upheld traditions involving family are still present nowadays and the concern about welfare, childcare and security are on the top list of the government’s active policies. The current fertility rate is 1.93 births per woman, and even though it is at its all-time low, it is still among the highest rates within the European continent. But why is that so? Let’s find out why Iceland is indeed a great country for families.
Maternity and paternity leave:
One of the biggest challenges in our modern society is finding the right balance between work and our own private life. This situation is an important factor when considering whether or not to have kids. For many, having a child is the greatest experience one can have, but it is also time-consuming.
In Iceland, the participation of women in the labor market is quite high, so both men and women need to find a way to have enough time to spend with their little ones. Various studies have shown that the parental leave system in Iceland is helping to provide a favorable environment as workers have six to nine months leave and they are paid up to the 80% of their average salary.
Maternity and paternity leave is a right in Iceland. Any parent can enjoy their time off with their baby when they are born. The leave can be taken part-time, or split into several time periods but the minimum is at least two weeks off. This parental leave system in Iceland ensures not only gender equality but also a better reconciliation between work and private life.
Daycare and Educational System:
In Iceland, pre-schools do not accept children who are younger than two years of age, which is why most parents need a daycare service. In this country, many things work differently, and this is a good example. Daycare takes place at a parents’ home; this means someone adapts to a private residence and provides childcare services under the supervision of the local municipal authority.
These private homes offer a daycare service from 7:00 to 19:00, so this schedule covers most work shifts. This assistance does have a fee, but most local communities subside its price if the child stays at least 4 hours per day.
The educational system has four stages:
Pre-School (leikskóli) – For children between two and six years of age. It has a small fee, but the government covers most of its cost.
Compulsory (grunnskóli) – For kids between 6-16 years of age. It is free and mandatory.
Upper-Secondary (framhaldsskóli) – For those that are 16-20 years of age. It is free as well except for private schools.
Higher Education or University (háskóli)– For anyone who has completed their upper-secondary studies. Public universities are tuition-free.
Is Iceland Family Friendly? The Importance of Social Context
Safety and employment rate:
Another important factor when having a child is the employment options of the parents and of course, how safe the environment will be for their babies. In this case, Iceland is one of the safest nations worldwide with a crime rate of 1.8 murders per year. The unemployment rate is just 3.5%, which is also quite low.
So, after reading all of these factors, it is not hard to see why Iceland is a great country for families. There is still some work left to do and we can still improve, but we are surely on the right track! Let us know your opinion on this matter and how it works in your home country.