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DEMOGRAPHICS

Why Spain’s population is shrinking by 72 people every day

In 2015, births declined by 4.6%, reducing the population by 13,000 in the first half of 2016

Spain’s population is shrinking at a rate of 72 people per day, essentially due to a historically low birthrate, according to a study released by the National Institute of Statistics (INE). In the first half of 2016, 12,998 more people died than were born in Spain and the number of newborns fell by 4.6% compared to the same period in 2015.

A baby at a hospital in Granollers (Catalonia). Ampliar foto
A baby at a hospital in Granollers (Catalonia). Getty

Since the economic crisis of 2008, the country has seen a steady trend of increasingly fewer births. The only exception was in 2014, when the number increased by 0.1% compared to 2013.

The survey also found that there were fewer deaths (7.8% less) and fewer marriages (2.7% less) in the first half of 2016 than in the first half of 2015.

By 2066, Spain’s population will have shrunk by around 5.4 million, studies suggest

The dearth of newborns was especially acute in Catalonia and Aragón, as well as in the exclave city of Melilla. In the first half of 2016, Catalonia had 9% fewer births, Melilla saw a baby decrease of 7.4% and Aragón had 6% fewer births than in the first half of last year.

On the other hand, the Balearic Islands, Ceuta and Asturias all saw slight increases in the number of births – between 0.6% and 1.5%.

In terms of deaths, all of Spain’s regions saw a decrease in mortality except for the exclave city  of Ceuta. Significantly, the regions of La Rioja, Aragon and Extremadura all experienced around 10% fewer deaths this year.

The Spanish population is ageing as birth rates decline.
The Spanish population is ageing as birth rates decline.

More as a result of greater longevity than increased fertility, the regions of Madrid, Andalucía, Murcia, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands saw more births than deaths, according to the study.

The INE explained that generally the first months of the year tend to see more deaths and fewer births than the final months, noting that this trend may not continue into the second part of the year.

In any event, the experts say that Spain isn’t getting any younger. By 2066, Spain’s population, currently around 46.4 million, will have shrunk by around 5.4 million, suggests another study released by the INE in October.

English version by Alyssa McMurtry.

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