The number of births in the Balearics was the highest in 22 years, at 10'057, attributed to immigration and a general increase in the population, rather than an increase in the actual birth rate. The number of deaths this year was 7'350, which means a growth in population of 2'770 persons, beaten only in the past 18 years by 2001, when the increase was 2'820 persons. The figures were provided by Antoni Monserrat, the head of the Balearic government's finance department, with up to date figures up to the first half of the year. According to the Balearic Institute of Statistics, the increase in the number of births in absolute figures is a result of the increase in population in the Balearics over the past few years, in particular the increase in the number of foreigners of child-bearing age who come to the islands in search of work. Because of this trend, the birth rate is relatively low, 1.4 per cent, compared to the two per cent which demographers consider the ideal rate for renewing the population. “We are not experiencing a baby boom as in the 1960s and 1970s because the number of children per woman is not increasing. “The increase is because there are more women of child-bearing age, while more and more Balearic women are delaying a decision to become mothers,” an Institute spokesman said yesterday. As an example, he said that most of the 10'120 babies born in the Balearics in 1979 were born to mothers of Spanish nationality, when the population was much lower than what it now is, so that the birthrate was actually higher than what it is now. The number of deaths in 2002 will be approximately 7'350, the highest since 1975, with the exception of the 7'418 deaths in 1999. The increase in deaths in absolute figures is attributed to the ageing of the population and an increase in life expectancy. Another trend noted by the Balearic Institute of Statistics is a reduction in the number of marriages in recent years, a trend which is also found elsewhere in Spain and in most of the European Union countries, and reflects the social changes in recent decades. There were 4'280 weddings in the Balearics in 2002, the lowest figure since 1997, even though the population has increased by more than 100'000 persons since then. In 1981, for example, there were 3'384 weddings and the population was 655'000 persons. The population of the Balearics now stands at approximately 910'000 persons. This is an increase of 31'373 persons in relation to the 878'627 according to the revised census of January 2001. This increase of 3.5 per cent is explained by the arrival of immigrant workers, chiefly from countries outside the European Union. The population rose by 3.9 per cent in 2001, just under three per cent in 2000, 3.18 per cent in 1999 and 4.75 per cent in 1999.