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Rising Birthrates Not Enough to Replenish EU Population

FILE - Babies are pictured in a maternity ward at the Rechts der Isar hospital in Munich.
FILE - Babies are pictured in a maternity ward at the Rechts der Isar hospital in Munich.

More babies are being born across the European Union but not enough to replenish the population naturally, the bloc's statistics agency said Wednesday.

Across the 28-nation European bloc, 5.15 million babies were born in 2016, the last year for which figures were available, compared with 5.10 million in 2015, a Eurostat report showed.

The overall fertility rate, or the average number of children a woman has in her lifetime, stands at 1.6 — well short of the 2.1 live births per woman that Eurostat said was "considered to be the replacement level in developed countries."

France had the highest fertility rate of 1.92 births per woman, followed by Sweden with 1.85, Ireland with 1.81, and Denmark and the United Kingdom both with 1.79.

In comparison, Spain and Italy had the lowest rates with 1.34 births per woman.

Germany, where the rate is 1.59 births per woman, noted a record number of babies in 2016. There were 792,131 children born in the country that year. Officials said this was boosted by an increase in births by non-German women following large numbers of migrant arrivals.

The new figures also delved into the age of first-time mothers across the EU — and revealed a stark divide across the bloc.

Women in the EU had their first child on average at 29 years old, with the youngest in Bulgaria at 26 and the oldest in Italy at 31, Eurostat said.

Romania had the highest rates of teenage pregnancy, with 14.2 percent of births in the Eastern European country being to women under 20.

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