Births in Colombia dropped by 10.5% in the second half of 2023, according to data published this week by the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE). Additionally, the study indicates a 9.3% decline compared to the first 6 months of 2022, confirming a downward trend in childbirth.
According to DANE data, between May and July 2023, there were 126,520 registered births in the country, whereas during the same period the previous year, there were 141,288 births. These figures confirm the downward trend that began in 2019 and continued, with the exception of 2020, becoming more evident in the last two years.
Decline in Births Among Venezuelan Migrants
The study also sheds light on births in the significant migrant community of Venezuelans living in Colombia. As of July 31, 2023, the report indicates the lowest number of births to children with Venezuelan mothers. The decline is over 11,000 children, representing a 41.7% decrease compared to the same period in 2022.
Regarding births to mothers with Venezuelan residency, the decline was even more pronounced, with a 66.2% decrease in the first seven months of the year compared to the same period the previous year.
A Change in Trend
The figures confirm a change that has been apparent in recent years: fewer children are being born in Colombia. Historically, the country had a pattern of high birth rates. In fact, considering the population that has emigrated from the country in recent decades, demographic figures are clear: the Colombian population has been growing considerably year after year, thanks in large part to high birth rates but with evident changes in recent decades.
For example, in 1980, Colombia had a population of approximately 27,639,000, while in 2022, the population was 51,870,000 residents in the country. However, if you look at the birth rates for the same period, the trend is clearly downward. While in 1980 the rate was 45.8 per thousand, the figure has gradually fallen to 14.2 per thousand in 2021.
This change clearly reflects the country’s evolving pattern in recent times, transitioning from an agricultural society to an increasingly urban one, where housing prices and size, as well as changes in family lifestyles, clearly affect the number of children per couple.
Decades with the Most Births
The decades with the highest number of births are the 1980s and 1990s. In 1970, Colombia recorded approximately 1.6 million births. This number steadily increased during the following decades, reaching its peak in the 1990s, with over 2.5 million births per year. These years witnessed a boom in birth rates, partly driven by an increase in the population of childbearing age and lower infant mortality.
However, as the 21st century progressed, births began to gradually decline. In 2021, the country recorded approximately 1.7 million births, a significant drop compared to the levels of the 1990s. This decline is attributed to several factors, including increased urbanization, women entering the labor market, and a decrease in the average family size.
Furthermore, access to education and family planning has increased in Colombia, leading to more informed decision-making about parenthood. The COVID-19 pandemic also had an impact, with a decline in birth rates in 2020 and 2021 due to health concerns and economic uncertainty, the latter of which seems to persist to this day.