In July 1994, Moldova's population was estimated at 4,473,033, with an average annual growth rate of 0.38 percent. In 1992 the population's birth rate was 16.1 per 1,000 population (compared with Romania's fourteen per 1,000), the death rate was 10.2 per 1,000 (the same as Romania's), and the rate of natural population increase was 0.7 percent per year (0.9 percent for Romania). The instability that had occurred throughout the Soviet Union at the time of its dissolution had a significant impact on these figures. By 1992, the birth rate had fallen from 18.9 in 1989 to 16.1 per 1,000, mortality had increased from 9.2 in 1989 to 10.2 per 1,000, and the natural population increase had declined from 1.0 in 1989 to 0.6 percent per year. In 1992 the infant mortality rate was thirty-five per 1,000 live births (compared with Romania's twenty-two per 1,000 live births). In 1989 the size of the average Moldovan family was 3.4 persons.
In 1991 about 28 percent of the population was under fifteen years of age, and almost 13 percent was over sixty-five years of age. Life expectancy in 1994 was sixty-five years for males and seventy-two years for females.
Although the Soviet government had built health care facilities in the Moldavian SSR, modern equipment and facilities were in short supply in the early 1990s. In 1990 there were 129 hospital beds and forty doctors per 10,000 inhabitants. The 1991 state budget allocated approximately 12 percent of the total budget to health care, most of which was provided to citizens free of charge.
The leading causes of death in Moldova are cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases, and accidents. Other major health problems are high levels of alcohol consumption and illnesses resulting from the extensive and indiscriminate use of herbicides and pesticides.
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