SPAIN is facing a costly ageing crisis as it emerges that the national birth rate has dropped for a fourth year in a row.

The drop is expected to cost the country billions as the birth rate fell yet again last year by 3.9% with just 453,000 births in Spain. The previous year it fell by 3%.

According to the statistics institute the decline is due to more people deciding not to have children, plus the fact that there are fewer women of childbearing age.

Marriages have also increased for the first time since 2004. The increase of 3.4% is due mainly to civil marriages, which rose by 8.7%.

Of the total marriages registered (168,835), 2.3% were same sex marriages (3,834).

The study also notes that couples are leaving it longer before marrying: with the average age standing at 36.2 years for men and 33 for women.

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