2013 marked new low in Bulgaria’s birth rate – health ministry
The birth rate in Bulgaria in 2013 will set a new low record, continuing the trend of the past 40 years, according to health ministry figures released in Sofia on December 17 2013.
Infertility affects close to 300 000 Bulgarian families, it emerged at the launch of a campaign to raise awareness among women about how to change their diet even while planning a pregnancy, and how to feed infants.
According to a survey among health professionals, quoted by the ministry, in the past year 48 per cent of women who had changed their diet already were expecting a child.
At the beginning of 2013, it was reported that the number of babies born in Bulgaria in 2012, about 62 000, was the lowest in the country since 1945. This figure was even lower than the 64 000 born in 1997, when Bulgaria was in a financial and economic meltdown that began in the closing months of the previous year and which led to shortages, evaporated spending power and mass street protests against the Bulgarian Socialist Party government of the time.
In 2011, there were 71 000 births in Bulgaria.
In January 2013, when the previous set of figures was announced, Elitsa Dimitrova of the Institute of Population Studies said that the downtrend trend in Bulgaria’s birthrate was related not only to living standards and career opportunities for women but also to deteriorating economic conditions.
Tsveta Brestnichka, head of the Parents Association, said that people were not motivated to have children, on one hand because they felt a lack of control over their lives but also did not feel that there was sufficient state support for having children.
The year 2013 has seen protests mobilised around cost of living that brought down the government in February, while the BSP government produced after the elections is the target of continuing protests, supported by the great majority of Bulgarians, demanding its resignation. Currently, the country faces worsening unemployment, low incomes by EU standards, significantly decreased foreign investment, has recorded a year of deflation, and – apart from minor token handouts such as end-of-year “bonuses” for the lowest-bracket pensioners and a smorgasbord of promises largely not followed through by action – no coherent policy or strategy on the part of the current government to improve the lot of ordinary Bulgarians.
A recent survey by Alpha Research found that Bulgarians saw 2013 as among the worst of recent years, and 6.7 per cent of those polled said that they would leave the country when the labour market in the other 27 member countries of the EU is opened fully at the beginning of January 2014. The agency said that given that previous experience with such polls had shown that about half of those who say they will leave the country actually do so, about 200 000 Bulgarians would quit the country in the near future.
(Illustration: Michal Zacharzewski)