In the first six months of 2022, Spain saw its birth rate sink to new historic lows, while its mortality rate increased 5% compared to the same period last year, newly released figures from the government have revealed.
The figures, released on Wednesday, August 17th by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), the Spanish government’s official statistical office, revealed that a total of 159,705 children were born in the first half of 2022, nearly a thousand less than were born during the same period in 2021, a year which saw the lowest number of childbirths since recording keeping began in 1941, El País reports.
Spain’s birth rate has been on a steady downward trajectory since 2014 when a total of 208,375 births were recorded in the first half of the year—nearly 25% more than were registered in the six months of this year.
The lowest birth rates were recorded in February (24,836), followed by April (25,570), and June (26,959). The months of January, March, and May registered 27,563, 27,426, and 27,343 childbirths, respectively.
The decline in birth rates was not uniform across Spain’s 17 autonomous regions, with communities like Asturias, Madrid, Valencia, Catalonia, and Castilla y León even recording small upticks in the number of births recorded compared to the same period last year. The largest drops, however, were recorded in La Rioja (8%) the Balearic Islands (4%), the Canary Islands (3.8%), and Castilla-La Mancha (3.7%).
VOX, Spain’s national conservative party, has described the situation as a “demographic emergency,” writing on Twitter: “We do not know if Spain will be the apocalyptic desert described by the climate shamans in 20 years. What we do know is that Spain will cease to exist if Spaniards cease to exist.”
Meanwhile, the number of deaths in the first half of this year climbed to 275,872, a 5% increase from the same period last year, and a 10.5% increase compared to the deaths recorded during the first half of 2019.
Relative to the 27 European Union member states, all of which have fertility rates that are well below 2.1 births per woman, the rate required for a population to replace itself, Spain—like its Southern Mediterranean neighbor, Italy—has consistently recorded some of the bloc’s lowest figures.
Robert Semonsen is a political journalist based in Central Europe. His work has been featured in various English-language news outlets in Europe and the Americas. He has an educational background in biological and medical science. His Twitter handle is @R_Semonsen.