ON top of its economic woes, Spain is experiencing a baby crisis.
The country needs an additional 280,000 babies each year to maintain the population balance between young and old, according to family policies institute, IPF.
For years Spain had the lowest birth rate in Europe but this rose as young immigrants flocked to the country during the boom years.
By 2008 the birth rate had risen to 1.46 children per woman but has steadily dropped as the economic crisis deepens. Only Hungary, Romania and Poland have fewer births.
“That means less prosperity, economic growth and above all, future,” warned IPF president Eduardo Hertfelder.
The current birth rate is now 1.36 children per woman, well below the EU average of 1.57 children and far from the 2.1 babies needed to guarantee generation renewal. Murcia now has the highest birth rate in Spain and Asturias the lowest.
Spain needs a total of 752,000 births a year instead of the current 472,000, Hertfelder said.
There is a direct link between family allowances and a high birth rate, he continued. “Countries that give all-round help to families have higher birth rates,” he said, citing Ireland (2.05 children), France (2.01) and the UK (1.91).