Birth rate in Huila remains stable in 2024 despite national downward trend

In a context where Colombia is facing a marked decline in birth rates, the department of Huila maintains comparatively high figures. This situation raises questions about the factors that could be influencing births in the region and also the relevance of deep-rooted cultural aspects, local economic conditions and social changes.

HUILA DAILY, REPORT

BY: ALEJANDRO POLANCO

Colombia is going through a difficult period in terms of births. According to recent data from the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE), 510,746 births were registered in the country in 2023, a decrease of 58,563 compared to the previous year. This negative trend has intensified in 2024, with a 14.6% reduction in live births through April, compared to the same period in 2023. This year has seen the lowest number of births in the last decade.

Since the end of the previous decade, the decline in birth rates has been constant. Bogotá, the city with the most births in the country, experienced a decrease of 25.7% in 2022 compared to 2018. In contrast, departments such as Guainía and Vichada have shown increases of 59.1% and 34.1% respectively, although their total birth numbers remain low in 2024.

This phenomenon is not unique to Colombia. The United Nations has noted that many countries are concerned about the decline in birth rates. Approximately two-thirds of the world’s population live in areas where fertility does not reach the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman, the figure necessary to maintain a stable population.

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A decade down

The analysis by Dane revealed that the birth rate has been steadily declining since 2014. That year, the country registered 669,137 births, a figure that has been decreasing year after year, with 569,311 births in 2021 and 510,748 in 2022. “During the first four months of this year there was a historic drop taking into account the trend of the last decade,” the entity stressed.

Among the results of the Dane, it was highlighted that the departments of San Andrés and Providencia, as well as Vaupés, are the places with the lowest number of births, with only 608 and 685 respectively in 2023, although they are areas with low population density.

Huila in the context of birth rate

Despite the national downward trend, the department of Huila maintains a significant number of births in 2024. According to data from Dane, Huila has registered 4,477 births to date. Neiva, the capital of the department, leads with 1,416 births (704 boys and 712 girls). Other municipalities such as Pitalito (642 births), Garzón (256 births) and La Plata (302 births) also present notable figures.

Born in the department of Huila during 2024 by municipalities:

– Neiva: 1,416 (704 boys, 712 girls)

– Acevedo: 144 (75 boys, 69 girls)

– Pleasure: 29 (13 boys, 16 girls)

– Aipe: 66 (36 boys, 30 girls)

– Algeciras: 81 (38 boys, 43 girls)

– Altamira: 13 (4 boys, 9 girls)

– Baraya: 14 (8 boys, 6 girls)

– Campoalegre: 112 (62 boys, 50 girls)

– Colombia: 27 (16 boys, 11 girls)

– Elias: 13 (7 boys, 6 girls)

– Garzón: 256 (132 boys, 124 girls)

– Giant: 79 (35 boys, 44 girls)

– Guadalupe: 87 (51 boys, 36 girls)

– Hobo: 28 (14 boys, 14 girls)

– Íquira: 58 (22 boys, 36 girls)

– Isnos: 90 (53 boys, 37 girls)

– Argentina: 52 (31 boys, 21 girls)

– La Plata: 302 (151 boys, 151 girls)

– Nátaga: 41 (21 boys, 20 girls)

– Oporapa: 57 (29 boys, 28 girls)

– Paicol: 23 (7 boys, 16 girls)

– Palermo: 96 (58 boys, 38 girls)

– Palestine: 36 (21 boys, 15 girls)

– Pital: 49 (25 boys, 24 girls)

– Pitalito: 642 (336 boys, 306 girls)

– Rivera: 75 (39 boys, 36 girls)

– Saladoblanco: 68 (31 boys, 37 girls)

– San Agustin: 104 (55 boys, 49 girls)

– Santa Maria: 45 (29 boys, 16 girls)

– Suaza: 106 (56 boys, 50 girls)

– Tarqui: 72 (36 boys, 36 girls)

– Thessaly: 26 (11 boys, 15 girls)

– Tello: 48 (28 boys, 20 girls)

– Teruel: 22 (7 boys, 15 girls)

– Timaná: 74 (40 boys, 34 girls)

– Villavieja: 11 (6 boys, 5 girls)

– Jaguar: 15 (10 boys, 5 girls)

Possible explanations for the national decline

Angela Vega-Landaeta, a doctor in demography and professor at the Universidad Javeriana, said that “the transition in fertility is already taking place; slowly and behind the rest of the country, but it is happening.” The low birth rate is due to several factors, including:

Modernity and Development: Technological advancement and urbanization have changed people’s priorities and lifestyles, leading to decisions to delay or have fewer children. The conveniences and opportunities offered by modern life, especially in urban areas, often lead people to opt for smaller families.

Women’s Autonomy and Emancipation: With increasing education and female participation in the workforce, many women are choosing to have fewer children or delay motherhood. The possibility of pursuing a career and achieving personal and professional goals has led many women to postpone motherhood.

Access to the labour market: Lack of access to the labour market for pregnant women and the lack of guarantees for combining motherhood and work contribute to low birth rates. The difficulty in finding and maintaining employment during and after pregnancy is a significant demotivating factor.

Judicial Protection: The lack of judicial and social support for women raising children alone is a significant demotivator. Judicial protection is another demotivating component; women are left to raise children alone. The legal obligations that men have towards children are derisory, so the imbalance in parental responsibility adds an additional burden to mothers, influencing their decisions about motherhood.

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Huila remains

Despite the national trend, Huila remains one of the departments with the highest number of births due to several factors, both positive and negative:

Strong Cultural and Family Identity: Huila has a deep-rooted conservation culture that values ​​family and traditions, which may influence decisions to have more children. Large families are common and are seen as a pillar of society.

Relative Economic Development: Although Huila is not one of the richest departments, it has seen economic development that has allowed many families to maintain a stable life. Agriculture, especially coffee, and a large number of independent merchants have contributed to a more resilient local economy.

Lack of local health and well-being initiatives: The lack of support and prevention programs by the departmental government and local mayors in Huila could be pointed out as a factor that influences its position as one of the departments with the highest number of births nationwide.

Educational and social strategies: The inadequacy of family education and prevention programs contributes to a higher birth rate without the necessary resources to guarantee balanced and sustainable demographic development.

International Comparison

This phenomenon of declining birth rates is not unique to Colombia; many countries around the world face similar situations. The United Nations has warned that low birth rates are a growing concern globally. Approximately two-thirds of the world’s population live in areas where fertility does not reach the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman, the figure necessary to maintain a stable population.

Piedad Urdinola, director of Dane, explained that “the decline in birth rates is a trend that has been declining and has worsened more sharply.” This highlights that, although the pandemic had a significant impact, the decline in birth rates was already an observable trend before this health crisis.

Huila’s position as one of the departments with a sustained birth rate in Colombia reveals both significant opportunities and challenges. While this situation could initially be interpreted as a positive indicator of demographic vitality, it also reflects deep inequities and deficiencies along with insufficient investment in education and family prevention, barriers that limit sustainable and equitable development.

 
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