Some 172,000 babies were born in the year to May this year, a drop of over 6,000 on the year earlier period and taking the birth rate back to the same level as the early 1980s, the national statistics office CBS said on Monday.
The birth rate also fell in 2012 and 2011, even though the number of women of childbearing age remained constant.
The CBS said the ongoing economic crisis may be leading people to postpone or decide against having children. In particular, younger women are delaying motherhood, the statistics show.
The trend reflects the situation elsewhere in Europe where the average number of children per mother has fallen from 1.6 to 1.57. In the Netherlands, the figure has dropped from 1.79 to 1.76.
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