Fertility rate edges up to 1.39

Kyodo

Japan’s fertility rate rose 0.02 point to 1.39 in 2010, after leveling off for two years, due to an increase in births among women in their late 30s and a rise in the number of women with more than one child, the health ministry said Wednesday.

But a ministry official said despite the rise in 2010, “downward trends in the birthrate will continue” amid Japan’s rapidly aging population.

The total fertility rate — the average number of children a woman will bear over her lifetime — rose after hitting a record low of 1.26 in 2005 and remaining flat at 1.37 in 2008 and 2009, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

In 2010, birthrates among women in their late teens and early 20s dropped but rose among those between their late 20s and late 40s, the ministry said. The average age of women who gave birth for the first time was 29.9, up 0.2 from the previous year. The number of babies born in 2010 totaled 1,071,306, up 1,271, while 1,197,066 people died, up 55,201.