TOKYO - The number of babies born in Japan fell an estimated 5.9 per cent this year to fewer than 900,000 for the first time since the government started compiling data in 1899, the welfare ministry said on Tuesday (Dec 24).
However, Japan is not the only country that is facing the problem of how to cope with a shrinking society. Below are some other countries that face declining birth rates.
Singapore's birth rate - only 8.9 births per 1,000 people - is among the world's lowest due to an increasing number of Singaporeans marrying later in life and needing help to conceive.
To encourage couples to have more children, the Government has rolled out several pro-family incentives and benefits through the Marriage and Parenthood Package, which was first introduced in 2001 to help couples defray the cost of having children as well as balance family and work responsibilities.
2. SOUTH KOREA
The number of babies born in South Korea hit the lowest October figure at 25,648, down 3.1 per cent from a year earlier, according to Statistics Korea, adding to worries about a so-called demographic cliff. During the January-October period, the number of births plunged to 257,965, down 7.5 per cent compared with the same period last year.
The government has so far had little success in reversing the falling trend, which survey after survey blames on rising home prices and shrinking job stability, among other factors.
After a spike in 2016, the number of births has been dwindling in the subsequent years, falling from 17.9 million to 17.2 million in 2017 and to 15.2 million last year - the lowest in more than 50 years.
The Chinese government has been dangling carrots in a desperate bid to create a baby boom to stave off gloomy predictions of serious socioeconomic problems. Some provinces have offered free delivery for second-time mums, while others are handing out bonuses and subsidies.
The number of births in Spain in 2018 fell by 6.1 per cent from a year earlier, according to a report by Spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE). Only 369,302 babies were born last year in Spain, 23,879 fewer than the 393,181 births registered in 2017.
This is the lowest number of births in Spain since 1998 and represents a 40.7 per cent drop in the birth rate when compared with 2008, when close to 520,000 babies were born.
The drop in the overall birth rate is due to fewer children per mother, and fewer mothers of child-bearing age now than in the past.
The number of babies born in Italy hit a new record low in 2018. Births dropped by some 18,000 to 440,000 last year, the lowest level since the unification of Italy in 1861, the national statistics office ISTAT said.
SOURCES: XINHUA, REUTERS, BLOOMBERG