KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — The number of live births in Malaysia has been on a decline since reaching its highest peak in 1995 with 581,234 live births that year, according to National Registration Department’s (NRD) data.
On the open data portal data.gov.my, NRD showed that the most recent peak in the number of births happened in 2014 (547,763) but it has fallen since then — dipping below half a million in 2020, and before that in 2016 reaching the low numbers that were last seen in the early 1980s.
Last year, there were 437,710 live births. As of September, there are 267,246 births so far this year.
The last time the number of births was below 440,000 was in 1980 when it was at 431,637. Then, the number of births steadily climbed through the 1980s to enter the 1990s with more than half a million births.
From then, the number of births consistently stayed at above half a million through the 1990s.
The last time Malaysia reached a trough was in 2005 when the number was the lowest in the decade at 491,136. It had steadily climbed from 2006 to a record high in 2012, which was then broken again in 2014.
In 2020, the number had already fallen below 2005’s threshold.
The first time the birth rate fell below half a million births in a year since 1990 was in 2003, when there were just 497,713 births.
Last year, Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Mohd Uzir Mahidin was reported by national news agency Bernama as saying that the number of live births in Malaysia saw its highest decrease in a decade in 2021 with a decline from 14.5 births in 2020 compared to 13.5 births in 2021 per thousand population.
Similarly, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) showed a declining trend with 1.7 babies per woman of childbearing aged 15 to 49 years in 2021 compared to 1.8 babies in 2020.
Women, Family and Community Development Ministry (KPWKM) secretary-general Datuk Maziah Che Yusoff also said in November the TFR has continued to decline over the past five decades, and if this trend continues it is expected that the annual population growth will continue to decline until it reaches a level of 0.7 per cent in 2050.
Maziah told Bernama the fertility rate in Malaysia dropped sharply from 6.7 births per woman in 1957 to 4.0 in 1980, 3.0 in 2000, 2.1 in 2010 and 1.7 in 2021.
She attributed it to delayed marriage which causes the reproductive period to be shorter, tendency to have a small family for various reasons such as financial capability and infertility problems due to health reasons.
Maziah said if the fertility rate continues to drop and no intervention is taken to deal with this situation, the Malaysian population will reach its maximum population of 46 million in 2071 before experiencing population shrinkage in 2072, which will result in a more serious shortage of manpower thus affecting the development of the country.