Japan posted the fewest births in its recorded history last year, continuing a seven-year decline that further aggravates the challenges of its rapidly aging society.

The number of newborns fell to 799,728 in 2022, down 5.1% from a year earlier, to lowest since it began record-keeping in 1899, according to data Japan’s health ministry released Tuesday. The number of deaths rose 8.9% to 1.58 million for the same period, it said.

The lack of births means Japan will have a smaller workforce and fewer taxpayers to sustain the world’s third-largest economy in the years to come. The rising cost of caring for its elderly citizens, who make up a higher proportion of the population than in any other country, is draining the nation’s coffers, helping make it the world’s most indebted country.