Malaysians are not having enough babies, and the fertility rate has continued its tumble to 1.8 babies per woman, Malaysia’s Department of Statistics has revealed.
According to the Vital Statistics 2019 report released on Thursday (Oct 24), Malaysia had just 501,945 new babies in 2018, a drop of 1.3 per cent from the year before.
That is equivalent to one baby born every minute, 57 babies born every hour, and 1,375 babies born every day, the report said.
Of the babies born in 2018, 51.7 per cent were male and 48.3 per cent were female.
Total fertility rate, which has been declining over the past three decades, dropped from 1.9 in 2017 to 1.8 in 2018 – a far cry from the 4.9 babies per woman in 1970.
The total fertility rate measures the number of babies born to every woman from 15 to 49 years of age.
Malaysia has not been able to meet its total fertility rate replacement level of 2.1 since 2013, the department added.
Crude birth rate (CBR) per 1,000 people also declined from 15.9 to 15.5, the department said. Pulau Pinang continued to record the lowest CBR of 11.7 per 1,000 population, while W.P. Putrajaya had the highest rate of 24.7.
Mothers giving birth later
The mean age of mothers at their first live births was 27.8 years, an increase of 0.1 year from 2017. “Generally, an increase in the average age of the mother at first birth indicates that the reproductive period is getting much shorter,” Bernama quoted chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin as saying.
Bernama also reported Mohd Uzir as saying that the fertility rate decline was in line with developed countries such as Australia (1.8 babies), the United Kingdom (1.8 babies), Singapore (1.2 babies) and South Korea (1.1 babies).
Earlier this month, The Star reported that Malaysian couples will soon be able to use their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
According to The Star, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said during the Budget 2020 announcement that the income tax relief of up to RM6,000 for serious illnesses will be expanded to fertility treatments.
Trending baby names
The top trending names for male and female babies born in 2018 were Adam and Ainul Mardhiah for Bumiputeras, Jia Jun and Yu Xuan for the Chinese and Kavin and Janani for Indians.
Ainul Mardhiah is also the name of the baby girl from Meleka who suffered a rare 200g germ cell tumour in her mouth.
Born in August 2018, Ainul Mardhiah’s case gripped the hearts of many people across the nation. Members of the public and Malaysia Airlines later helped to send the baby to London for treatment, and she is reportedly now back home with her family.
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In 2018, there were 172,031 deaths, an increase of 2.3 per cent from 2017.
That is equivalent to one death every three minutes, 20 deaths every hour and 471 deaths a day.
The crude death rate remained at 5.3 per 1,000 population, the report said.