The Federal Statistics Office reported on Monday that Germany faced a dwindling marriage and birth rate. Around 715,000 babies were born last year in the country, down by 9,000 or 1.3 percent as compared to the previous year. Similarly, fewer couples decided to marry last year -- just 383,000 in 2003, down by 1.4 percent on the previous year. In contrast, the office announced that the death rate had risen in 2003 to 858,000, an increase of 1.6 percent. The statistics showed that in 2003, 143,000 more people died than the number of children born, reflecting a rapidly aging population.