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News | Wednesday, 10 March 2010 Issue. 154

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Decrease in fertility rate marks ‘changed’ Maltese woman

The total fertility rate has decreased from 3.6 in 1960 to 1.4 in 2008, the National Statistics revealed in a statistical publication compiled for International Women’s Day in which it provided an overview of the participation of women in Maltese society.
The data is a snapshot of the changing role of the Maltese woman, who chooses marriage and parenthood at a later age than the average 50 years ago.
Birth statistics show an increasing trend in the average age of mothers at first birth, from 23 in 1960 to 27 in 2008. In the same year, 43% of brides in Malta were aged between 25 and 29. Nearly 70% of total brides in this year were Maltese.
An average of 57 abortions a year were carried out on Maltese women in England and Wales in the past 10 years, according to UK health records. The highest number, 69, were carried out in 2002 and 2007; the lowest was registered in 2008 at 38.
The total number of women in 2008 stood at 207,736 – 22% were aged between 50 and 64, with nearly the same proportion being calculated for women aged between 20 and 34. The percentage of females aged 65 and over was 4% higher than that for males.
The expectation of life for females stood at 82 in 2008, an increase of 39 years since 1930.
According to the European Health Interview Survey held in 2008, 71% of female respondents aged 15 and over said that they do less than 10 minutes of moderate exercise per week. 23% of female respondents said that they exercise moderately for more than 1 hour, compared to 27% of males.
This survey also highlighted trends related to smoking habits. Nearly 16% of female respondents said that they smoked on a daily basis, while 79% said that they did not smoke at all. It also emerged that the proportion of male smokers was higher than that of females. In fact, regular male smokers exceeded that of females by nearly 10 percentage points.
Figures from the 2008 Survey on Income and Living Conditions revealed that 16% of the total female population living in households was at risk of poverty. This figure stood at 14% among males. Significant differences were recorded in the at-risk-of-poverty rates for different age groups among women and varied from 13% for the 25-49 year old age group to 20% for women aged under 18 and those aged 65 and over.
The employment rate for females aged between 15 and 64 increased from 34% in 2003 to 37% in 2008, as calculated from the Labour Force Survey. Over the same time span, both the unemployment rate and the inactivity rate for females in the same age group registered decreases. The unemployment rate decreased from 9% to 7%, while the inactivity rate decreased from 63% to 60%.


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