Monday, September 25

Fewer children are born in Spain than ever


The 160,000 babies in the first semester are the lowest figure since there are records and prolong 14 consecutive years of falling birth rates

Alfonso Torres

Spain runs out of children. In 2022 fewer babies were born than ever. The births recorded during the first six months of this year confirm the dangerous trend that began 14 years ago, of successive and uninterrupted annual falls in the birth rate.

From January to the end of June, women living in Spain gave birth to 159,705 children, 976 fewer than a year earlier, according to data estimated by the National Institute of Statistics (INE). This is the lowest figure since 81 years ago, in 1941, the first official Spanish birth registry was created.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Spanish break the record for the fewest number of new babies since the end of the Civil War. Until this succession of negative records for the future of the country began in 2008, the year that marked the lowest historical peak of births was 1996, although with almost 20,000 more births than today in the first six months of the year. A pothole that the massive arrival of young immigrant women straightened for more than a decade.

The current permanent drop in the birth rate in Spain began in 2008, with the beginning of the great economic crisis, which can be said to have not yet ended despite the 14 years that have elapsed. That year, from January to June, 255,062 children were born in Spain, practically 100,000 more than now, which reduces the number of births by 37%.

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The flight of many thousands of unemployed immigrants in the past decade, the sharp decline in the percentage of Spanish women of childbearing age due to the gradual aging of the population and the increasing general delay in having the first child have done the rest.

The age breakdown of new mothers confirms the importance of late pregnancies. Children born in the first semester to women between 30 and 40 years old were 100,623, two-thirds of the total. The third group with the most newborns is that of mothers between 25 and 29 years of age, but followed by women between 40 and 44 years of age.

Increasingly late motherhood is a determining factor and two thirds of new mothers are between 30 and 40 years old

Such a delay in the age of the first pregnancy, and the consequent lower number of children per woman, seems logical in a country with twice the average youth unemployment rate on the continent, with the most precarious jobs, with housing prices the clouds and with an age of emancipation that touches the 30 years, three years more than the EU.

The only positive data from this first semester is that the fall in the birth rate seems to be slowing down a bit. If in 2021 new births collapsed by 5.2%, in 2022 the decrease is only 0.6%. However, here there may also be a distortion caused by covid, with a sharp drop in pregnancies in 2020, and therefore in births in 2021. The usual rate of decline in the last decade fluctuated between 2% and 3%. annual.

The decline is not general either. In six autonomies (Asturias, Madrid, the Valencian Community, Catalonia, Cantabria and Castilla y León) the newborns have increased, while they decreased in the other eleven. The main decreases in babies occurred in La Rioja, the two archipelagos, in Castilla-La Mancha and in Aragón. It fell slightly, but the Murcia national average improved, with a fall of 0.15%.

Deaths at maximum

If births collapse, deaths have skyrocketed again in the first seven months of 2022. In fact, if you ignore the deaths that occurred on the same dates in 2020, terribly fattened by the first wave of the coronavirus, the months that have elapsed of this year, until last July 25, are the period with the most deaths in Spain of the entire century.

Mortality, on the other hand, is at a maximum, with two very clear peaks: that of the sixth covid wave in January and that of the heat wave in July

Since January 1, 275,872 people have died in Spain, 13,136 more than in the same period last year. This significant increase, 5.15%, in addition to the fundamental reason that has marked this trend for years -the progressive aging of the Spanish population-, is explained by two other factors: the pandemic and the tremendous heat waves. In fact, the two moments with the most deaths in these seven months were January and the first half of February, coinciding with the peak of the sixth wave of covid infections, and last July -especially the week from 4 to 17-, with the largest and longest-lasting heat wave in many decades, to which experts attribute 20% to 25% of the deaths of the month.

With this demographic panorama, the logical thing is that Spain suffered from an ever-increasing population haemorrhage. But it’s not like that. In 2021, with 47.4 million Spaniards, 34,110 more than a year before, it broke the population record. The reason is that the positive migratory balance (148,677) more than compensates for the natural decrease, with 113,000 more deaths than births.

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