THE BIRTH rate in Slovakia is low and fell again last year, with the Statistics Office reporting that only 60,410 children were born in Slovakia last year.
“That number is comparable to 1996,” said Zuzana Podmanická, the head of the Demography and Census Section of the Statistics Office, as quoted by the SITA newswire. Of the newborns, 30,544 were boys and 29,866 were girls, and in percentages it was 50.6 percent boys and 59.4 percent girls.
Podmanická stated that the country’s birth rate is below a critical level, as it dropped to 1.4 children in 2010, adding that simple maintenance of population levels requires a birth rate of 2.1, a critical value is 1.5 and 1.3 is considered a very low birth rate.
“A logical consequence of this development is that since the early 1990s, Slovak women have not provided adequate reproductive substitution for themselves,” Podmanická said.
The level of reproductive substitution is currently 0.6 to 0.7 girls per woman. The share and absolute number is increasing for firstborn children, who make up almost half of newborns. In 2001, 23,000 firstborn babies arrived; last year there were 30,000.
“The most basic feature is delaying motherhood to an older age,” Podmanická said, as quoted by SITA. In the 1990s the fertility curve peaked at around 22 years old for mothers and now it is closer to thirty. The postponement of motherhood is reflected in the average age when mothers give birth, which has increased by two to three-tenths of a year in recent years. In 2010, the average age of mothers giving birth was 28.8 years and 27.3 years for those having their first child. Most children are born to mothers in the age group from 25 to 29. The proportion of children born to mothers older than age 30, however, is rising.
The trend in the number of children born outside marriage has been increasing and last year one-third of children were born outside marriage. These children are born to mothers with a lower education to a greater degree.
A downward trend has continued in the number of induced abortions, with 17,218 pregnancies terminated in this way last year.
“This is the lowest number since legalisation of artificial termination of pregnancy,” said Podmanická. The highest rate of abortions is in the age groups that have the highest birth rates, from age 25 to 34 years, and for that reason the abortion index is the lowest in those age groups. Women’s behaviour in relation to induced abortion is affected by their marital status and 60 percent of those women who had induced abortions were single and childless while 68 percent of married women and 74 percent of divorced women who chose an induced abortion already had one or two children.
Statistics Office data show that between 51,000 and 54,000 deaths in Slovakia each year. In 2010, about 532 more people died than in the previous year and it was 1,500 more than in 2001, with 52 percent of those deaths usually being men, SITA reported.
Average life expectancy is rising in Slovakia though the pace is relatively slow, increasing by 2.1 years for men and by 1.3 years for women since 2001. In 2010, average life expectancy was 71.62 years for men and 78.84 years for women. Though Slovak women, on average, live about 7.2 years longer than Slovak men, life expectancy is rising faster for men than for women.
The most common causes of death in Slovakia involve diseases of the circulatory system, cancer, external events, respiratory diseases and diseases of the digestive system. These conditions are responsible for 93 percent to 94 percent of all deaths.
18. Jul 2011 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff