By Terry Vanderheyden

OTTAWA, August 2, 2006 ( – A new report released Monday by Statistics Canada has revealed that Canada’s birth rate has continued to decline to a new record low of 10.5 live births for every 1,000 population in 2004 – down from 10.6 in 2003.

StatsCan also revealed that the average age of women giving birth has increased from 29.6 in 2003 to 29.7 years in 2004. StatsCan noted as “particularly striking” the change in average age of mothers between 1979 and 2004. In one generation, only half as many women were mothers by age 24, at 20.6 per cent, compared to 40.7 per cent of women under 24 in 1979. Births to mothers over the age of 35, meanwhile, were almost four times as frequent as a generation earlier.

Looking at fertility rates – the number of children a woman will have throughout her child-bearing years – the national average remained constant between 2003 and 2004 at 1.53 children per woman. Visible minorities had higher than average fertility rates at 1.7 children per woman, although that rate represented a significant drop from a previous rate of 1.94 in 1996. StatsCan also noted that the birth rate among immigrant women quickly normalizes to the national average by the second generation.

Looking at individual faith groups, Muslim women were having 2.41 children per woman in 2001 – the only religion with a replacement birth rate (considered to be 2.1 children per woman). Hindus rated second at 2.0, while Buddhists, Orthodox Christians and women who had no religion at all registered at the opposite extreme, with 1.34, 1.35, and 1.41 children per woman respectively. Protestants and Roman Catholics were having children at near the national average at 1.57 children.

Canada set its record low for fertility at 1.49 women per children in 2000.


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