Last year, Spain reported a higher number of deaths than births for the first time ever since World War II, prompting the government to take a radical step to arrest the declining birth rate.
Senator and demographics expert, Edelmira Barreria Diz, has recently been appointed government commissioner with the sole responsibility of sorting out the nation’s problem. Such position was specifically created for Diz and was given the name of ‘Sex Tsar’.
The task is quite challenging. According to a report by Spanish social and economic think thank, Funcas, between 1977 and 2015, the number of childless couples tripled from 1.5 to 4.4 million, with the national birth rate having fallen by 18 percent since 2008.
Although most European countries have been facing a similar decline, Spain has recorded one of the lowest rates in the European Union, beating Greece, Cyprus and Portugal, with an average of 1.32 babies born per woman. To get the idea, Ireland and France have the highest rate, with an average of 2.01 each, while the European figure stands at 1.58.
Rafael Puyol, of the IE Business School in Madrid, believes that the primary reason behind the problem is that people are often too tired after a full day at work or have one too many late nights to even think of starting family.
According to the Institute for Family Policy, however, it’s the economic crisis that drives women to leave it to late to have a family — a reasonable statement, if taking into account that Spanish women tend to begin motherhood only when they reach the age of 32.
Last year, Spain reported a record 48% unemployment among youths, leading to a high number of emigrations due to better opportunities found abroad.
Declining birth rates have been an issue for quite a few European countries. Just last year, Italy put in place a new holiday, named National Fertility Day, which celebrates couples and encourages them to start a family, even on that specific day if needed be.
Similarly, in 2014 Danish government ran a series of ads encouraging couples to procreate, naming the campaign “Do It For Denmark”. The effects of birth rate seemed to be positive, so we can only hope it will be the same for Spain.