From Iceland — Letters


Published December 5, 2005


Hello, I was reading your magazine one of these days when I ran across a piece called “more reproduction needed in Iceland” by Stephen Taylor-Matthews where he discusses the birth rate in Iceland mong other things. I just wanted to make some corrections if I may.
Stephen writes of the low reproduction rate in Iceland and mentions the figure of 1, which, incidentally, is the yearly (approximately) increase that we have been enjoying here in Iceland for the last decade or so. The CIA Fact Book uses for birth rate births/per 1000 of population where Iceland has the rate of 13.73 and France 12.15, only Ireland and Albania having higher rates than Iceland among the countries of Europe. This, coupled with one of the lowest death rates in the world, makes Iceland one of the fastest growing populations in Europe.
According to the CIA Fact Book the population growth rate of France is 0.37% and in Iceland 0.91% (based on 2005 estimates, the rate is expected to be much higher here this year)
Later in the piece he says: “Currently in Iceland the retired are supported by generous pension contributions subsidized from the coffers of the government treasury, i.e. the taxpayer.”
This shows that Stephen has not studied the pension funds system very well, every employee and employer pay 10% (6 and 4 respectively) of an employees wage into a pension fund and the pension fund pays the retirees, if you do not pay into the pension funds, you only get the government contribution and that is very low indeed. The state does not pay much into the pension funds, they tax your money when you are working and they tax the pension that you are paid upon retiring.
The pension funds are among the biggest financial powers here in Iceland. If you want to go out and buy a bank you ask one of the pension funds to back you up. It is the pension funds instead of the Russian mafia that are helping Icelandic companies making it abroad, that is one of their ways of investing their money.
Thanks for a very good paper,
– Sigvaldi Eggertsson
Maybe Stephen was reading the CIA Fact Book from the FUTURE. Ever think about that? Ahem. Assuming he wasn’t, we can say the following: SHIT!
Still, the growth rate isn’t all that high. The truth is that while Iceland is a great place to raise babies, (as demonstrated in Paul’s feature in this issue), there aren’t as many born as one might think. The .91% growth rate is high for Europe, but Iceland has some unusual obstacles. As with much of Europe, Iceland is still facing some difficulties in taking care of its elderly, but we also have a young generation discovering a staggering amount of mobility, and a better and better-educated population with limited opportunity on the home front.
Ultimately, it seems to come down to this: Stephen wrote an article suggesting that Icelanders should breed more. He’s a handsome guy. Think of it as a pick up line. A giant, slightly inaccurate pick-up line.

Re: Are We a Nation of Inactivists?
Is it possible that Icelandics are making too much money to care about the price they are paying for goods, services, and freedom? Are Icelandics enjoying the riches of their newfound wealth without caring about the cost? If they are, certainly they have a right.
Perhaps it is the few like yourself, who could take a more active role as is required by all grass roots movements. It must start with one; but it must be one asking questions and willing to walk and work to get the mainstream, and those not so privileged, involved enough to cause change. Until then, you can answer your question very simply. Yes, comparatively speaking, Iceland’s population is currently overwhelmed with ‘Inactivists’.
Take note while pondering individual/ group involvement. It is not whether immigrants will get involved but when. People moving to Iceland by choice will begin entering your olitical system in order to instigate change. Those enterprising enough to change lifestyles and countries bring with them the impetus to create change that suits their choices. It takes one to care enough, to put aside the spoils and recognize that the price paid today affects the price in years to come.
– Gregrie Merkel
I think I’d agree. If I knew what you were saying.
I just wanted to say, I’m an American who loves your magazine. I’ve been to Iceland a few times now, and have decided to look for a job and make it my home. Your online paper is a great resource for me, and reminds me a lot of my favorite paper at home, the Boston Phoenix. If you haven’t seen it, I’d urge you to heck it out. It’s a great paper, and their website is really well done, too.
One thing I didn’t notice on the site, which would be of great help to me and others, I’m sure, are any sort of apartment listings. Do you know of any websites that could help me out? I’ve been searching google and yahoo, but can’t seem to find anything but guesthouses and holiday apartments.
Thanks on many counts,
As much as I hate how corporate the Boston Phoenix is, with their radio station and stranglehold on the Boston market, I do read the magazine online, and it has presented good work. I also support the Weekly Dig, the Phoenix competition at
You see, small, free papers are the future. They usually give pretty good insight into local culture, and make the world seem both more diverse and smaller
Now to your question about classifieds: they’re coming. Don’t use any other resource until we start it.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!


Sour Grapes: HYPOCRISY!

Sour Grapes: HYPOCRISY!


Show Me More!