Bulgaria has the youngest first-time mothers in the EU – Eurostat
Bulgaria has the youngest first-time mothers in the European Union, with Bulgarian women giving birth to children for the first time at an average age of 25.8 years, three years younger than the EU average, EU statistics office Eurostat said on March 15 2016.
Eurostat, reporting figures for the year 2014, listed Bulgaria as having seen among the highest increases in its fertility rate since 2001, by 0.32 per cent – but still leaving the country with a fertility rate of 1.53, still below the 2.1 needed to prevent a demographic decline.
The statistics agency said that in 2014, 5.132 million babies were born in the EU,compared with 5.063 million in 2001.
Among EU countries, France continued to record the highest number of births (819 300 in 2014), ahead of the United Kingdom (775 900), Germany (714 900), Italy (502 600), Spain (426 100) and Poland (375 200).
In Bulgaria, there were 67 585 live births in 2014. In 2001, the figure had been 68 180.
Eurostat said that while first time mothers were the youngest in Bulgaria, the country with the oldest first-time mothers was Italy.
In 2014, the mean age of women at birth of their first child stood at 27 or below in Bulgaria (25.8), Romania (26.1), Latvia (26.3), Estonia (26.6), Poland (26.9), Lithuania and Slovakia (both 27).
In contrast, this age was 30 or above in Italy (30.7), Spain (30.6), Luxembourg (30.2) and Greece (30).
In the EU, 68 552 more babies were born in 2014 than in 2001.
Across EU countries, the largest relative increases were in Sweden (25.6 per cent), the Czech Republic and Slovenia (both 21.1 per cent), Ireland (16.3 per cent) and the United Kingdom (16 per cent). In contrast, the highest decrease was in Portugal (-27 per cent), followed by the Netherlands (-13.5 per cent), Denmark (-13.1 per cent) and Romania (-12.4 per cent).
Overall, the fertility rate in the EU increased from 1.46 in 2001 to 1.58 in 2014.
It varied between member states from 1.23 in Portugal to 2.01 in France in 2014. A total fertility rate of around 2.1 live births per woman is considered to be the replacement level in developed countries: in other words, the average number of live births per woman required to keep the population size constant in the absence of inward or outward migration.
In 2014, France (2.01) was the only EU country with a fertility rate above 2.0. It was followed by Ireland (1.94), Sweden (1.88) and the United Kingdom (1.81).
Conversely, the lowest fertility rate wase observed in Portugal (1.23), ahead of Greece (1.30), Cyprus (1.31), Spain and Poland (both 1.32), Italy and Slovakia (both 1.37).
In most EU countries, the fertility rate rose in 2014 compared with 2001.
The largest increases were observed in Latvia (from 1.22 in 2001 to 1.65 in 2014, or +0.43), the Czech Republic (+0.38), Slovenia (+0.37), Lithuania (+0.34), Bulgaria (+0.32) and Sweden (+0.31). In contrast, the highest decreases were registered in Cyprus (-0.26), Portugal (-0.22) and Luxembourg (-0.16).
For the EU as a whole, the fertility rate increased from 1.46 in 2001 to 1.58 in 2014 (+0.12).
(Photo: Lech Karol Pawłaszek)