On average, Bulgarian women have their first baby at the age of 26.1 years, making them the youngest first-time mothers in the European Union, EU statistics agency Eurostat said on March 12, citing figures for 2017.
Bulgaria also had the second-highest share of births of a first child to teenage mothers, Eurostat said.
In 2017, the mean age of mothers at the first childbirth varied among EU countries, the statistics agency said.
The lowest mean age for the first childbirth was recorded in Bulgaria (26.1 years), followed by Romania (26.5), Latvia (26.9), Slovakia (27.1), Poland (27.3), Lithuania (27.5) and Estonia (27.7).
In contrast, the mother’s age for the first childbirth was above 30 in Italy (31.1 years), Spain (30.9), Luxembourg (30.8), Greece (30.4) and Ireland (30.3).
The highest shares of births of a first child to teenage mothers (less than 20 years old) were recorded in Romania (13.9 per cent of total births of first child in 2017) and Bulgaria (13.8 per cent), ahead of Hungary (9.9 per cent), Slovakia (9.5 per cent), Latvia (6.7 per cent) and the United Kingdom (6.1 per cent).
On the other hand, the lowest shares were observed in Denmark (1.5 per cent), Italy and Slovenia (both 1.6 per cent), the Netherlands (1.7 per cent), Luxembourg (1.9 per cent) and Sweden (two per cent).
In contrast, the highest proportions of births of a first child to women aged 40 and over were registered in Spain (7.4 per cent of total births of first child in 2017) and Italy (7.3 per cent), followed by Greece (5.6 per cent), Luxembourg (4.9 per cent), Ireland (4.8 per cent) and Portugal (4.3 per cent).
In 2017, 5.075 million babies were born in the EU, compared with 5.148 million in 2016.
The total fertility rate in the EU was 1.59 births per woman in 2017, compared with 1.6 in 2016.
The highest total fertility rate since the start of comparable time series was in 2010 when it reached 1.62, still below the replacement level, which is considered to be 2.1 live births per woman.
Among the 5.075 million births, 45 per cent concerned a first child, 36 per cent a second child and 19 per cent a third or subsequent child.
On average in the EU, women who gave birth to their first child in 2017 were 29.1 years old. Over five years, the mean age has gradually increased from 28.7 in 2013 to 29.1 in 2017. Almost five per cent of births of first children in the EU in 2017 were to women aged less than 20 (teenage mothers) and about three per cent to women aged 40 and over.
In 2017, France (1.90 births per woman) was the EU country with the highest total fertility rate in the EU, followed by Sweden (1.78), Ireland (1.77), Denmark (1.75) and the United Kingdom (1.74).
Conversely, the lowest fertility rates were observed in Malta (1.26 births per woman), Spain (1.31), Italy and Cyprus (both 1.32), Greece (1.35), Portugal (1.38), and Luxembourg (1.39).
In the EU, 81.5 per cent of births were first or second children, while births of third children accounted for 12.5 per cent of the total, and fourth or subsequent children accounted for 6.0 per cent in 2017.
Across the EU member states, the highest share of mothers giving birth to their fourth or subsequent children was recorded in Finland (10.3 per cent), followed by Ireland (nine per cent), the United Kingdom (8.8 per cent), Slovakia (8.1 per cent), and Belgium (eight per cent), Eurostat said.
(Photo: Niels Timmer/freeimages.com)