THE birth rate in Spain has fallen to the lowest on record.

Official figures show there were 23,226 babies born in December, down 20.4% from December 2019, matching similar signs of decline elsewhere in Europe.

It is the lowest rate in Spain since records began in 1941, making Spain the second least fertile country in Europe behind Malta. 

The National Statistics Institute (INE) said the fall has been driven by the pandemic, with Spain completing one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe.

“Even though the number of births has been in a constant decline trend for several years, the fall has been accentuated nine months after the lockdown during the first state of (coronavirus) emergency,” an INE statement said.

Though Spain’s initial coronavirus lockdown remained in effect for the whole of April 2020, the number of babies born in January 2021, nine months later, edged up a little to 24,061. 

Mother sells baby for €

Researchers blame the cornavisus crisis for deepening fears of political and economic uncertainty in Spain. 

In Spain, births were already falling fast before the coronavirus, posting a 16% drop between 2014 and 2019.

Women are having fewer children, and having them later in life, said researchers.

The fall in birthrate is exaggerated by an ageing population, with a larger proportion unable to have children.

The total fertility rate — the average number of children a woman will have throughout her childbearing years — fell to 1.23 children per woman, compared to 2.8 in 1975.

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