The number of children under the age of three has fallen by 84,229  whilst the segment of the population over the age of 65 has increased by 111,084 individual

Spain is headed towards demographic collapse. The first time since 1998, when official records began to be published by the Padrón Continuo, or continuous census measurement agency, the population of Spain is decreasing. In particular, the number of inhabitants registered in this country has fallen by 205,788 persons in 2012, bringing Spain’s total population to 47,059,533 individuals as of the 1st January, 2013.

The demographic winter in Spain is now a reality, resulting in an inverted population pyramid, and the Spanish government must pay heed to this change, according to Eduardo Hertfelder, president of the Institute of Family Policy (IPF). The over-65 group (8,333,283 persons) now outnumbers the group representing children under the age of 15 (7,050,276) by 1,283,007 persons, and fast approaching the number of those under 18 (8,334,238).

In one year, the number of children under the age of three has fallen by 84,229 in Spain whilst the segment of the population over the age of 65 has increased by 111,084 individuals.

Spain’s birth rate continues to fall year after year

Spain’s birth rate continues to fall year after year. The number of children under the age of one decreased by 6% with respect to 2012, numbering 417,582, less than half of the maximum peak of the population pyramid, which is 837,768, for persons aged 36 years, and less than that found for the group aged between 65 and 69 and even those aged 72. This continuous decrease in the number of births not only entails a drastic population decrease in Spain, which is estimated to be approximately 13 million inhabitants this century, but will also lead to the unsustainability of the country’s current welfare structure.

As we approach 2040, when the Spanish baby boom generation retires, the pension, healthcare and education systems will face collapse if this demographic trend is not reversed. Only a recovery in the birth rate will be able to address this problem of our aging population. The country needs 280,000 more births per year in order to reach a birth rate that could reach replacement fertility. Spain’s current birth rate is 1.36 – seventh among the EU-27 member states.

Year after year, the number of children has gradually fallen from 9.6 million in 1981 to just under 7 million in 2013, a decrease of 2.6 million during this period.


Causes of demographic collapse. Spanish fertility rate is 1.36, far lower than the European average (1.57) and much lower than the replacement fertility rate (2.1).


The number of children has seen a significant and continuous decrease, resulting in a narrowing of the bottom of the population pyramid, which jeopardises Spain’s demographic future. The under-18 group has fallen by 30,000 persons.

In contrast, the number of older individuals has risen year after year, increasing from 4.2 million in 1981 to 8.3 million in 2013, which represents an increase of more than 4 million persons. Spain saw an increase of 111,000 in the over-65 group.

If the Spanish population aged between 0 and 3 is considerably lower in 2013 with respect to 2012 (84,229 fewer children), the opposite is occurring in the over-65 group, which has increased by 111,084 in one year.

The number of people aged 65 or older now surpasses the number of persons aged 15 or below by 1.3 million, approaching the number of those aged below 18 years of age.

As of the 1st of January 2013, there were 8,333,283 inhabitants in Spain that were aged 65 or older, compared to the 7,050,276 individuals aged 15 or younger, and 8,334,238 individuals aged 18 or younger. Spain’s population is undergoing disproportionate aging and now finds itself in a demographic winter.

The country now suffers from one of the lowest birth rates in the European Union, surpassing just six countries of the EU-27. Data from 2011 speaks for itself: the Spanish fertility rate was 1.36, far lower than the European average (1.57) and much lower than the replacement fertility rate (2.1).

Towards demographic collapse

To replace its current population, a country’s needs a birth rate of 2.1 children per female. With a fertility rate of 1.36, Spain faces a serious problem. In order to ensure generational replacement, it needs 280,000 more births per year to reach the required 752,000 births per year.

In 2011, the number of annual births in Spain fell for the third consecutive year to 471,999, which represents 3.5% less than that of 2010, while the average age for first-time mothers rose to 31.4 years and the fertility rate fell from 1.38 in 2010 to 1.36 the following year.

Moreover, in that year, there were fewer women of child-bearing age than the previous year (Hacer Familia, June 2013).

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