Number of births increases in 2003

Although the number of children born in Latvia last year reached a seven-year high, initial data suggest that the birth rate this year will be flat or may decline slightly, the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia announced Oct. 22.

A total of 21,006 live births were recorded in Latvia last year, the bureau said in a press release. In 1995, a total of 21,595 live births were recorded.

In the first nine months of this year, the bureau said, a total of 15,800 children have been born. In several regions, including Rīga, it looks as if the number of births will exceed last year’s, but overall the country may not see an increase.

Overall in 2003, boys represented 51.6 percent of newborns, which the statistics bureau said is typical. Given that mortality is higher among boys than girls, the balance between males and females levels off and, by age 32, the number of women exceeds the number of men in Latvia. However, in the regions of Jelgava, Rēzekna, Daugavpils, Saldus and Valmiera, more girls than boys were born last year.

The bureau noted that Latvia’s birth rate of 1.29 children per each woman remains one of the lowest in Europe and is below the accepted level of 2.1-2.2 needed to maintain the population. However, the nation’s birth rate has risen since slipping to 1.11 in 1998.

Of all live births recorded last year, 64.4 percent were listed as ethnic Latvians, the bureau said.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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