Czech birth-rate rising but population still ageing

Exactly a year ago, Radio Prague reported that the Czech Republic was experiencing something of a baby boom, especially in the summer months when maternity hospitals around the country were finding it hard to cope with an unusual number of births. This summer, the situation seems very similar. That may sound like good news, but demographers say, in the long term, the Czech population will continue ageing.

Last year saw the highest number of births in the Czech Republic since the mid-1990s when the birth-rate took a dive in this country. Over 102,000 babies were born last year and experts agree it is because many of the baby-boomers born in 1974 and 1975 are having their first children now when they have reached their 30s - unlike previous generations who had children at a much younger age. Demographers also say it is quite likely that the women who are now having their first baby will decide not to have any more children. Demographer Terezie Kretschmerova from the Czech Statistical Office.

"It is very likely that women who are now in their fertile age, will end up having fewer children than women who were in their fertile age a few decades ago. Also, a larger proportion of them will remain childless.If the trends from 2005 were to continue, up to 37 percent of women would stay childless."

Currently there are 1.28 children per woman in a reproductive age, which makes the Czech Republic's fertility rate one of the lowest in the world. The average age when women have their first baby continues to rise, from 26.3 years in 2004 to 26.6 last year. Despite that, the Czech population has been increasing in recent years, but mainly due to immigration. Last year, more than 60,000 foreigners came to live in the Czech Republic which equals more than half the number of babies born in this country last year. The Czech Statistical Office also projects that by 2050, the share of people over the age of 65 in the population could increase from some 14 percent now to a full one third.