Romania is slowly but surely evaporating. The family, in decline: Fewer marriages, fewer births and twice as many deaths

Romania's population has been in continuous decline for several years, but recently it has been accelerating, according to official data. According to the INS, in the last month the number of deaths in our country is almost double the number of births.

The number of Romanians starting a family is decreasing – Photo Archive

Every 10 years, Romania loses a million inhabitants, but recently the process seems to have accelerated, according to official data. More precisely, data from the National Institute of Statistics show that, in the last month of 2023, only 11,431 children were born, while 21,917 people died. And these figures come after our country registered a negative birth record in the first quarter of last year, when only 73,000 children were born, “the lowest number in 145 years“.

The natural increase remains negative, as the number of people dying is almost twice as high as the number of new births. In 2022, the number of births was the lowest in the last century. Population decline is, however, a global phenomenon, faced by several European states.

Relationships without a certificate

Not only the number of births is decreasing, but also the number of marriages. Young people prefer non-certificate relationships more and more and more postpone the moment when they say “YES” in front of the registrar.

The average marriage age of Romanian women was 30.7 years, in 2021, and that of men 33.8 years, according to INS data. Although the number of marriages is decreasing, in 2021 in Romania there were 5.2 marriages for every thousand inhabitants, which is above the European average of 3.2 per thousand inhabitants. In 2022, the marriage rate was 5.4 per thousand inhabitants.

However, in 2023 the number of marriages, but also that of newborns, decreased. More precisely, during the month of December 2023, 4,670 marriages were registered, down by 1,125 (19.4%) compared to the previous month, the INS reported. And the number of births was 15% lower in the last month of last year compared to December of 2022.

Psychologist Keren Rosner explained to “truth” why young people choose to marry later.

The decision to have children is also related to the declining number of marriages. In general, young people have other priorities. First of all, they want more freedom and flexibility, and that's why they postpone marriage and the decision to have a child. Try to have financial stability first. They believe that after ticking off certain priorities, they will be able to settle down in a family and take on the responsibility of having a child. They have hobbies, passions, they want travelsexperiences, want to experience more things including relationships, find a compatible partner with whom to build a lasting relationship.“, says the psychologist.

Moreover, the situation today also scares young people, considering that in 2022 there would be one divorce for every five marriages, according to the INS.

What is happening nowadays is not really a source of inspiration and confidence to get married, I'm talking about the divorce rate and the ease with which people get out of the relationship. Today's youth are part of the generation that lived with divorced parents, not all of them managed the situation very well. They have an unconscious fear of engaging in this commitment of marriage. Because it represents an act of responsibility, it will not radically change the relationship, but it gives a certainty that the other has made the commitment, is responsible, and officially wants it in front of others. Marriage is a confession to society that you are taking responsibility to enter into a relationship that you are determined to fight for“, adds Keren Rosner.

Among the reasons why people divorce, the psychologist lists: financial problems, different life goals, a different vision of children's education, incompatibility, infidelity, jealousy, physical violence, pressures between the two families and different goals in life.

“There is a fear, a dissatisfaction, that hovers, maybe even unconsciously, and that's why some refuse marriage“, states the psychologist.

Fear of being a good parent

Fewer marriages mean fewer children. In 2023, we reached approximately 155 thousand newborns, 15% less than in 2022.

We are working intensively at the Ministry of Family, Youth and Equal Opportunities for the preparation of a legislative framework that will provide the possibility of new family support measures to increase the birth rate“, announced Minister Natalia Intotero, related to the decrease in the birth rate.

Although Romania has one of the longest maternity leaves, the birth rate remains low.

Young people want more stability, to be sure that it is worth investing, that it is the right person and that they are ready to take responsibility for raising a child according to other than traditional principles. A child who is given a lot, varied possibilities to develop“, says the psychologist.

That's why many are scared, “fear of being a good parent” it contributes to putting off the moment, especially when faced with societal pressure. Concretely, young people have the impression that they have to solve all their problems, fulfill all their goals and desires before having a child, and this prospect scares them and causes them to plan everything.

In the past, parents were more relaxed, because we lived in safer and smaller societies, and the child had activities with other children, played, learned on his own.”, mentions Keren Rosner.

Infertility lowers the birth rate

In addition, there is also the problem of infertility. Whether we're talking about the delay in the moment when couples decide to become parents and age reduces the chances of procreation, or whether we're talking about health problems that make more and more couples unable to have children, infertility is one reason why the number of births has decreased .

Despite this fact, the program through which the Romanian state offered 15,000 lei to those eligible, for specific medicines and to pay for medical procedures, remained without funding in 2024. The reason: the Ministry of Finance no longer allocated funds, only ongoing procedures for the 10,000 files foreseen for 2023, according to the Minister of the Family, Natalia Intotero. In fact, last year 24,000 requests were declared eligible, but the Government decision approved for last year provides for the settlement of only 10,000, says Intotero.

“Infertility affects a large number of couples in Romania. The World Health Organization estimates that one in five couples suffer from infertility and shows an incidence of 15% of all couples in the world. (..) And in 2020, the fewest children of the last century were born in Romania; in 2021, from the last 130 years; in the first semester of 2023, the lowest number in the last 145 years“, says Carina Ioana Georgescu, the initiator of a petition for the resumption of the program.

One and good

The research “Generations and Gen” highlights that more than 70% of couples do not want children at all, while the number of those who want more than one child is minuscule.

A lot of people want to have a successful child, not in the classical terms, but to be emotionally balanced, have a beautiful character and have the strength to be victorious in life, all this requires financial investment, but and time and energy. Young people delay a lot the moment when they take responsibility. Psychologically speaking, it is very difficult to determine when the opportune moment is, there will always be the temptation to postpone, because you have the impression that you still have something to solve or perfect in order to arrive at that opportune moment. That's why it's good to let things happen and engage in what life gives you, not to have everything planned“, explained the psychologist.

Localities in Romania with zero marriages in 2023

In five communes from Buzău county, no marriage was solemnized last year. Specialists explain the phenomenon by the migration of young people to the cities and by the fact that they prefer long-term relationships, but not formalized by a legal certificate. According to the provisional data of the County Statistics Directorate (DJS), last year the most marriages were registered in the municipality of Buzău, respectively 1137 marriages. On the other hand, no marriage was solemnized in five communes. Moreover, in Pardoși township in Buzău county, no one has gotten married for more than two years.

There have been no marriages for a long time, two years ago I did about two marriages, otherwise there have been no marriages for a long time. The population is aging, we still have about 300 citizens in the entire commune. We are trying to attract young people here, it is a beautiful area, we carry out asphalting, we have modern public lighting, we provide land records for free, there are plots of land for sale. On the National Recovery and Resilience Plan we have two electric minibuses, with charging stations in collaboration with the town of Buda. We haven't had school for 6-7 years, we take the children to the Murgești commune. We are in total decline, a commune that had over 3000 inhabitants until 1989. We are 25 km from Râmnicu Sărat and 40 km from the municipality of Buzău“, the mayor of Pardoși commune, Iulian Preda, said.