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Spain's cash incentives fail to boost birth rate

Tue 22th Jun 2010

Spain's birth rate declined last year for the first time in a decade, official data showed Tuesday, despite government financial incentives for couples to have more children.

The number of births in 2009 was down 5.0 percent from the previous year at 492,931, or 10.73 births for every one thousand inhabitants, the National Statistics Institute (INE) said.

"The birth rate stalled in Spain in 2009 after a continuous period of increase over the previous 10 years" it said in a statement.

It blamed "the combined effect of a gradual reduction in the number of women of childbearing age and lower fertility."

In July 2007, Spain's socialist government launched a plan to give families 2,500 euros (3,000 dollars) for every new child in a bid to raise the flagging birth rate.

That plan is now due to be abolished from January, 2011 under government austerity measures announced last month to slash the public deficit.

The INE Tuesday noted in particular that births by foreigners resident in Spain had fallen by 6.0 percent.

The average number of children per woman in the country was 1.40 in 2009 compared to 1.46 the previous year.

For Spanish citizens, this figure went from 1.38 to 1.33 while for foreigners it slipped from 1.81 to 1.69.

From 1976 to 2000, the number of births decreased by half to around 396,000 and from then until last year it had been increasing annually.

But the number of foreigners has rocketed from around half a million in 1996 to some 5.7 million today in a total population of just under 47 million.

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