MADRID, June 19 (Xinhua) -- The number of births in Spain in 2018 fell by 6.1 percent year on year from a year earlier, according to a study published by the Spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE) on Wednesday.
The study, entitled "Natural Movement of the Population", shows that last year 369,302 babies were born in Spain, 23,879 fewer than the 393,181 births registered in 2017.
This is the lowest number of births in Spain since 1998 and represents a 40.7-percent drop in the birth rate when compared with 2008 (at the start of the economic crisis), when close to 520,000 babies were born.
The INE attributes the fall in the birth rate to two main factors which are women delaying the birth of their first child and also a reduction in the number of women of childbearing age in Spain.
The study shows that average age when Spanish women have their first child had increased from 32.1 years in 2017 to 32.2 in 2018, while it was 30.8 in 2008.
In contrast the number of women giving birth past the age of 40 has increased by 63.1 percent over the last decade, with around 10 percent of babies now being born to women aged 40 or over.
Speaking on Spanish state radio station RNE, the sociologist Antia Perez from the University of A Coruna, commented the data was "not a reason for alarm, as it is partly the result of demographic reasons", which was coupled with a "fall in the number of immigrants".
A total of 426,053 people died in Spain in 2018, making it the fourth consecutive year in which there have been more deaths than births and the overall population fell by 56,262.
Meanwhile the average life expectancy in Spain is 83.2 years, with men living an average of 80.5 years and women 85.9.