Canada's birth rate at all-time low

Canadians made fewer babies in 2002 than in any year since 1921, when Statistics Canada began keeping records.

Canada's birth rate fell two years ago to its lowest level since 1921, when the agency began keeping records, according to Statistics Canada.

The federal agency said on Monday that Canada's "crude birth rate," which measures the number of live births per thousand Canadians, fell to 10.5 in 2002.

The rate declined by slightly more than a quarter in the decade between 1992 and 2002, according to the report.

In 2002 Canadian women gave birth to 328,802 babies, down 1.5 per cent from the year before. It was also the eleventh decline in 12 years.

Ontario and Quebec were responsible for almost 4,400 fewer live births in 2002, representing 89 per cent of the net decrease for the entire country. The only increases came in Alberta, the Northwest Territories and in Nunavut.

The decline is also reflected in a drop in Canadian women's fertility rate as measured by Statistics Canada. It estimates the average number of children that women between 15 and 49 years of age will have in a lifetime.

That measure fell to 1.50 from 1.51 in 2001, placing Canada in the middle of a table of industrialized nations led by the United States with 2.0. Italian women are the least fertile according to this statistic, producing only 1.2 babies in 2002.