UNITED NATIONS, May 5 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A new survey just released by the United Nations warns that population levels in eastern Europe are likely to plummet by a third over the next 50 years due to a dramatic drop in birth rates. In its “Economic Survey of Europe” for 2000, the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) says that over the past ten years fertility has fallen from an average rate that ensured replacement of generations to two-thirds of that level. The latest figures, from 1998 reveal that women are having on average 1.3 children in Eastern Europe - alarmingly lower than the replacement rate of 2.1.

The report ties the anti-natal sentiment to economic hard times caused by the transition period from official communist rule. The ECE urges governments to introduce financial and tax benefits to those with children. “Although expensive, these policies can be successful and are not incompatible with a market economy - but they do require lots of political will,” the report said. It also predicts severe difficulties in coping with its aging population left without adequate support.