Never before have so few babies been born in Spain as in the past six months

by Lorraine Williamson
decline in birth rate

MADRID – Since 1941, the number of births registered in Spain has never been so low as the past six months. Furthermore, in January, this already low birth rate fell even further by 21%. 

However, the decline was less pronounced in the months that followed. On average, the number of births in the first six months decreased by 5.2% compared to the first half of 2020. Furthermore, compared to the same period in 2019, this percentage was 7.9%. This is according to data from the Spanish statistical office INE. 

Presumably due to pandemic 

The sharp drop in births in January resulted from the fall in pregnancies during the spring 2020 state of emergency. A phenomenon already predicted by demographers. Although, they believe the decline should not be attributed solely to the pandemic. As the birth rate has been on a declining trend for years. 

In the first six months of this year, 160,681 babies were born in Spain. This is 8,883 fewer than the first half of 2020 and 13,821 fewer than in the first half of 2019. Furthermore, compared to the same period in 2017, there were 29,348 fewer babies born this year. 

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Biggest Demographic Crisis Since Civil War 

Also in 2020, the newspaper El País reported the pandemic is causing the biggest demographic crisis in Spain since the Spanish Civil War. Albert Esteve, director of the Study Centre for Demography at the University of Barcelona, ​​says fewer and fewer babies are being born because there are less residents of childbearing age in Spain. And that this group of residents is choosing to have children at a later age than previously. 

However, once the pandemic is over, the sharper decline in the birth rate occurring now will recover quickly, according to Esteve. Many young couples only start having children when they have the prospect of work, their own home, and a stable relationship. Therefore, if these conditions are met again after the crisis, the number of births will also increase again. For example, the de-escalation from June 2020, when it seemed for a while the pandemic was under control, was reflected in the numbers with a small rebound in births after that. 

Decline in birth rate in almost all of Spain 

Only in the regions of Aragon and Cantabria did the birth rate increase in the first half of 2021 (+2.37%). The largest decreases were registered in the region of Castile and León (-8.94%), La Rioja (-7.87%), and Madrid (-7.83%). 

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