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Ukraine war causes birth rate to slump

The war in Ukraine has caused the country’s birth rate to fall by 28%, official statistics indicate.

In the first six months of 2023, 96,755 children were born there, compared with 135,079 in the first half of 2021.

Although the number of new-born babies has been in decline for the past decade, this is the biggest fall since Ukraine gained independence in 1991.

Ukraine’s population was more than 43 million before the war, but nearly six million have since fled, the UN says.

The birth rate figures, collated by Ukrainian data analytics website Opendatabot, are in line with observations by demographic experts who have recorded similar declines in previous wars.

The US-based Population Reference Bureau says that during civil conflicts, fertility rates typically fall by up to one-third, but rebound quickly after the fighting ends.

Before Russia invaded, up to 23,000 babies were born in Ukraine every month, but this has now fallen to about 16,000.

However, there is not much imbalance between the sexes. In the first half of 2023, the number of boys born was 49,626, while girls totalled 47,129.

The last time there was anything like as big a drop in Ukraine’s birth rate was when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014.

The following year, the number of babies went down by 12%.

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