Fertility rate in Malaysia has dropped from 1.9 babies in 2017 to 1.8 babies per woman aged between 15 and 49 in 2018, said chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin.
"The decline in fertility rate is due to the 1.3 per cent drop in the number of live births from 508,685 in 2017 to 501,945 in 2018," he said in a statement on Malaysia 2019 Vital Statistics report released today.
In the report, birth and death statistics were presented according to demographic characteristics in Malaysia for 2018 as key inputs for policy formulation and programme planning for health, education and employment.
Mohd Uzir said the decline in the number of births had led to a drop in crude birth rate from 15.9 in 2017 to 15.5 per 1,000 population in 2018.
According to Mohd Uzir, the decline was in line with developed countries such as Australia (1.8 babies), the United Kingdom (1.8 babies), Canada (1.5 babes), Singapore (1.2 babies) and South Korea (1.1).
In line with the decline in birth rate, the average age at first birth also continued to increase by 0.1 year from 27.7 in 2017 to 27.8 years in 2018, he said.
"Generally, an increase in the average age of the mother at first birth indicates that the reproductive period is getting much shorter," he said.
The report also showed that Kuala Terengganu district recorded the highest crude birth rate in 2018 with 30.5 per 1,000 population while Bagan Datuk, Perak had the lowest rate of 2.9.
As for the number of deaths, 172,031 deaths were recorded in 2018, an increase of 2.3 per cent from 168,168 deaths in 2017.
The crude death rate remained at 5.3 per 1,000 population in 2017 and 2018.
"Sabak Bernam district, Selangor recorded the highest crude death rate in 2018 with 8.4 per 1,000 population. Kinabatangan district in Sabah has the lowest rate of 0.7 per 1,000 population," he said.
Mohd Uzir said the change in the age structure of the population was one of the factors contributing to the increase number of deaths in Malaysia.