Spain’s Institute for Family Policy (IPF) released its “Demography and Birthrate for 2015” study in which it provides an analysis of these principal indicators, as well as seeking to present the consequences of the current trends for Spain. Published on September 20, this is the first of several studies to be released over the next six months in which the IPF will analyze not only demography and birthrates, but also: marriage rates, the balancing of family live and jobs, and social protection for families. The data comes from the Spanish government’s National Statistical Institute and Ministry of Health, as well as the European Union.
 
Abortion has become the prime cause for the drop of Spain's birthrate, according to the study. In 2013, 108,000 abortions were conducted in Spain. This gave Spain the distinction of coming in third in the rate of abortion among the 28 nations of the European Union, following the United Kingdom in first place and France in second place. In Spain, 298 abortions are carried out every day; in other words, one abortion for every 4.8 minutes.
 
The rate has risen rapidly since 1985, when there were 9000 abortions registered. By 1991, this jumped to 41,910 and to 49,367 by 1995. In 2001, there were 69,664. This rose to 91,664 in 2005 and onward to its present peak. Since 1985, nearly 1,914,446 abortions have occured in Spain. In other terms, of 1,460 pregnancies there are 298 that are terminated by abortion. Additionally, of the 1,168 pregnancies registered daily there are 761 that come about within marriage and 477 without the benefit of marriage. Of the 298 abortions, 35 of them are conducted on adolescent girls.
 
The rate of fertility in Spain has not reached replacement levels for 35 years: in order to replace the population level due to emigration and death, a country must have a 2.1 children on average per woman. Spain has not had a birthrate above 1.5 children per woman since 1987, thereby contributing to the rise in the average age of Spaniards.
 
Nonetheless, the overall population of Spain has increased between 1985 and 2015. While the population is now more than 46 million, without the addition of immigrants that number would be below 42 million. Since 2014, there was a drop in Spain's population from 47.021 million to 46.429 million: a net loss of 72,335. That drop is due to the fact that for the last three years, there has been negative population growth in Spain: in 2014, it was a record -32.777 or in other words there were 350,555 births and 382,742 deaths. "Spain has become a country of elderly people," said the study. It showed that currently there are 1.5 million more elderly living in Spain that young people. Those over the age of 80 constitute 2.7 million or 6 percent of the overall population. Since 1981, the number of elders over the age of 65 living in Spain has gone from 4.2 million to 8.6 million.
 
"Spain has joined with Italy, Germany, Greece, Portugal, and Hungary in a demographic winter," said the study. All  of these countries have high levels of elderly, aged 65 and older, while Italy is in the lead. This demographic winter, predicts the study, will have catastrophic consequences for Spain, as it will for other European countries.
In 2050, 1 out of 3 (32.1%) will be aged 65 or older,  and 1 out of 9 Spaniards will be aged 80 or over (6 million), and meaning that the current demographic relationship of younger Spaniards to elderly will be inverted and thus demanding drastic changes in society. By 2050 then, there will be only 5 working age people for every 3 elderly in Spain, thereby putting at risk the pensions and social welfare programs.  
 
In a 2001 study released by the National Bureau of Economic Statistics in Washington DC, authors David E. Bloom, David Canning, Jaypee Sevilla wrote of the ongoing discussion among experts on the effects of population change on economic growth. “For decades, economists and social thinkers have debated the influence of population change on economic growth. Three alternative positions define this debate: that population growth restricts, promotes, or is independent of economic growth. Proponents of each explanation can find evidence to support their cases. All of these explanations, however, focus on population size and growth. In recent years, however, the debate has under-emphasized a critical issue, the age structure of the population (that is, the way in which the population is distributed across different age groups), which can change dramatically as the population grows.”
 
It noted that when most of the population falls within working ages, there is a demographic dividend, “assuming  that policies to take advantage of this are in place. In fact, the combined effect of this large working-age population and health, family, labor, financial, and human capital policies can create virtuous cycles of wealth creation. And if a large proportion of a nation's population consists of the elderly, the effects can be similar to those of a very young population. A large share of resources is needed by a relatively less productive segment of the population, which likewise can inhibit economic growth.”
 
According to the U.S. Census, between 2012 and 2050, the U.S. population is projected to grow from 314 million in 2012 to 400 million in 2050, an increase of 27 percent. The nation will also become more racially and ethnically diverse, with the aggregate minority population projected to become the majority in 2043.  In addition, the U.S. population is expected to become much older. By 2030, than 20 percent of U.S. residents are projected to be aged 65 and over, compared with 13 percent in 2010 and 9.8 percent in 1970.


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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