Spanish birthrate ‘catastrophically low’


News that the Spanish birthrate was overtaken by the number of deaths for the first time in 2015 has prompted the government to appoint a special demographic commissioner.

Edelmira Barreira Diz is a senator from the conservative Partido Popular de Galicia (People’s Party of Galicia). She has now been given the role of Comisionada para el Reto Demográfico (Commissioner for the Demographic Challenge) as Spain struggles with one of the lowest birthrates in the developed world.

On average Spanish woman aged 18-49 had just 1.3 children in 2015, compared to an EU average of 1.58. Births in the Mediterranean nation have fallen by a startling 18 per cent since 2008. Meanwhile, the number of couples with no children at all has almost tripled, to 4.4 million according the social think tank Funcas.

The Education Ministry, meanwhile, is concerned that the country’s plunging birthrate will erode the country’s economy and welfare state.

Senator Barreira Diz will work with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Roy to formulate a national strategy to encourage Spaniards to have more children.

Commentators are divided on reasons for the issue. While some blame a culture of long working hours, others point to the possible influence of the country’s stringent Ley Integral contra la Violencia de Género (Integrated Law against Gender Violence). This controversial legislation, originally introduced in 2003, created a new category of domestic violence called ‘gender violence’, which could only be committed by men against women. Any accusation by a woman results in automatic imprisonment of the man even in the absence of evidence and women who make claims receive a range of economic benefits.

Photo by Steve and Sara Emry under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

View more from this author


Andrew - March 2, 2017 at 8:18am

Yes, I can see how that might discourage people let from getting together . . . Legislators elsewhere be warned.
Spain s also, I think, still in recovery from Franco.

JamesB - March 2, 2017 at 1:39pm

That last sentence, blimey.

Seems two schools of thought on what to do on the issue of aging population and declining birth rate. Three if do nothing is an option.

One, mass immigration, easier option for politicians given option 2.

Two, look at social issues, as rightly pointed out in the article.

I am not going to expand on option 2 details, beyond that the pill did start a revolution and we don’t know where it will end, perhaps we won’t know for hundreds of years, but I like to think I will have grandchildren hence my preference for option one.

Not that examining the roles of people and society is something that I really want to discuss with the media and politically correct people who seem to shout loudly whenever the issue is raised, for example on how to have children and a career.

JamesB - March 2, 2017 at 1:42pm

To clarify a couple of points. I prefer option 2 over mass immigration. Other thing is the last sentence of the article seems a bit extreme and I can understand, like Andrew, how that may be an issue and relevant. Unfortunately like dodgy family law putting people off marrying in this jurisdiction.

JamesB - March 2, 2017 at 3:27pm

re : the media and politically correct people who seem to shout loudly whenever the issue is raised, for example on how to have children and a career.

They shoot the messenger and shout at you or anyone who raises the issues behind this article which they regard as sensitive and not to be talked about. Its like immigration and racism and religion etc, it does not seem possible to have a sensible discussion around these matters and I would rather people talked and resolved things then a ultra hard Brexit for example.

JamesB - March 2, 2017 at 3:40pm

They have this in Japan also. I don’t know what the answer is, but at least the questions are being asked and I thank you for that. I hope the long term answer is not Sharia law. I hope and like to think that we can do better than that.

JamesB - March 2, 2017 at 3:54pm

Maybe the pill, maybe votes for women, maybe both, probably both, the pill probably the more important factor of the two towards the issue though they are both important. Also HIV and divorce and the CSA/CMEC/CMoptions/CMS and other factors. Probably all of these and more combined. As per the article, the question is as per Japan what to do about it. Fair laws and relationship classes and perhaps more representative or better government less. I don’t know the answers, I don’t even know who to look to for the answers. I was thinking Boris Johnson perhaps.

JamesB - March 2, 2017 at 3:57pm

I am thinking Boris Johnson over Theresa May, not literally, but in terms of a better leader, although scratching around a bit, not sure Trump is the answer either, need a hero as Bonnie Tyler used to sing.

Miriam - March 2, 2017 at 6:39pm

Like a previous poster said, they are still getting over the legacy of Franco and fascism. I believe this is true throughout the Western world. All of us are on tenterhooks believing things are going to go crazy again and that it is all deliberate. Being made poor through war discourages people from bringing more people into that.

JamesB - March 3, 2017 at 7:53pm

The last war significantly involving Spain was in the 1930s and think saying its due to that probably is missing other larger more important contributing factors to the degree which could be called denial or diversion. I think the article is more appropriate on the contributing factors and it doesn’t mention war.

Miriam - March 8, 2017 at 6:09am

Franco ruled until the mid 1970’s. It’s not just a period of active war which can devastate birthrates. Read about Spain’s ‘Stolen Babies’ where Spanish parents, even if they were married, were falsely told their babies were stillborn up to the early 1980’s and hundreds of thousands of these babies were sold on a papal black market to loyal Catholics overseas. Many of these children suffered horrifying abuse at the hands of their adopters. This wasn’t just in Spain. When every policy is rooted in theft and corruption, it’s very natural to just give up.

Leave a comment