Spain among EU countries with lowest fertility rate

by Lorraine Williamson
fertility rate

The number of babies born in the EU fell below 4 million for the first time in 2022. The fertility rate is in free fall, mothers are having their first child at an increasingly later age. The demographic challenge facing the European Union is getting worse. And certainly, also for Spain. Spain is one of the EU countries with the lowest fertility rate.

In 2022, a total of 3.88 million babies were born in the EU (up from 4.09 million the year before), the lowest level since records began in 1960, according to the latest data released by Eurostat.

It is the first time that the number of births has fallen below 4 million. The number of 3.88 million corresponds to a birth rate (number of births per thousand inhabitants) of 8.7, compared to 10.7 in 2000, 12 in 1985 and 16.4 in 1970. During the Covid-19 pandemic, births in the EU first fell to 4.07 million (in 2020), then rose slightly to 4.09 million in 2021 and thus fell again in 2022 to 3.88 million babies. In 2023, Spain recorded a record low for the number of births.

Situation of fertility rate in Spain is worrying Eurostat data show that the situation is particularly worrying in the case of Spain. In 2022, Spain recorded the second lowest fertility rate in the entire EU. With only 1.16 children per woman, compared to 1.19 in 2021. Only Malta had it even lower, at 1.08 and 1.24 respectively.

At this age, women have their first child

Eurostat’s research also shows that women are having their first child at an increasingly later age. The EU average increased from 28.8 years in 2013 to 29.7 years in 2022. The average age at first birth is lowest in Bulgaria (26.6 years) and Romania (27.0 years), while the highest values can be observed in Italy (31.7 years) and Spain (31.6 years).

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Highest average age at which a woman becomes a mother

Spain is the country in Europe with the highest average age at which a woman becomes a mother. It also tops the list of births to mothers over the age of 40. This delay in motherhood seems to have a clear consequence: the number of people resorting to assisted reproductive techniques has skyrocketed.

So much, in fact, that one in 10 new babies is already the result of assisted reproductive treatments, according to the National Registry of Assisted Human Reproduction Activities. This has been compiled every year since 2014 in collaboration with the Spanish Ministry of Health.

The higher age at which Spanish women have children for the first time could also have led to more adoptions. Instead, the opposite has happened: international adoption has fallen to levels never seen before.

Also read: New births registered in Spain at record low

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