Rate of infant mortality rises

Greece has the highest rate of infant mortality in the European Union and a below-average life expectancy, according to figures made public in Brussels yesterday. The report on European population trends in 2002, compiled by Eurostat, the Union’s official statistics service, also found that Greece’s population fell by 0.02 percent last year compared to 2001, although positive net migration helped counterbalance the decrease. Greece, together with Spain, also had the lowest fertility rate (1.25 children per woman). Infant mortality topped the EU chart at 5.9 deaths for every thousand live births, a significant rise from 5.1 in 2001. The United Kingdom came second at 5.3. The average life expectancy in Greece was 75.4 years for men and 80.7 for women. The EU average was 75.5 for men and 81.6 for women, while Cyprus had the highest figures among acceding countries (76.1 for men and 81 for women). Eurostat set the total Greek population on January 1, 2003 at 11,018,400.