Women leaving it later than ever to give birth

Fall-off in immigration sees end to last decade's improvement in fertility rate

Fewer babies and later in life. The trend began in 2008 with the onset of the economic crisis, and it consolidated last year, according to preview data released by the INE National Statistics Office.

Figures show that the annual number of births in 2010 fell 1.96 percent to 484,055, the third annual decline in a row following a decade of growth. The fertility rate - the number of children per woman - also fell slightly to 1.38 from 1.39. Spanish women have their first child on average at age 31.9, a record high, while foreigners living in Spain start at 28.7.

Experts are concerned about these numbers. Gerardo Meil, a professor of sociology at Madrid's Autónoma University, said they can "endanger generational changeover" and notes that the desirable fertility rate for demographic sustainability is 2.1 percent.

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