British birth rate leaps by 18% in a decade


Social Affairs Correspondent

British women are having significantly more children than a decade ago, with birth rates for mothers in England and Wales up by 18 per cent, official figures show. Improvements in fertility treatments allowing people to start families later and a growing population of second generation migrants are amongst possible explanations for the rise.

More than a quarter of babies born in England and Wales are also now from mothers who arrived in Britain from other countries, according to an analysis of the latest census.

There were 724,000 births in 2011 — of which 26 per cent, 185,000, were to mothers themselves born abroad. At the last census in 2001, just 16 per cent of births were to foreign-born mothers.

Women born in Britain now give birth to more children, according to the UK’s total fertility rate (TFR), which is the average number of children a woman is expected to give birth to in her lifetime. It has risen from an average of 1.56 children to 1.84 in a decade.

The picture is similar in Scotland, where the population has increased by 233,000 – five per cent – since the 2001 census. This represents the fastest growth rate between two Census years in the last century.

The rising population in Scotland has also been driven by births, with 293,000 children aged under five in 2011, an increase of six per cent from 2001.

Seven per cent of people in Scotland said they were born outside the UK, an increase of three percentage points since 2001.

Mothers from Libya had the highest average birth rate of 5.58, closely followed by those from Guinea, with 4.84 and Algeria with 4.32. A spokesman for the Office for National Statistics said that “strong cultural preferences” were likely to be behind the marked variation in birth rates amongst different nationalities.

Polish women were the most likely foreign-born mothers to give birth in England and Wales overall, producing 20,500 babies in 2011. However, the number of babies each had, on average, was 2.13 - lower than the average for foreign-born mothers living in England and Wales.  

Women born in Romania and the Czech Republic had the highest TFRs of any EU country of birth (2.93 and 2.77 respectively). However, in 2011 these countries of birth accounted for only a relatively small number of births - 3,500 from Romanians and 1,600 from Czechs.

Oliver Dorman, senior research officer at the Office for National Statistics, told The Independent he thought it was possible the rise in births amongst British born mothers was partly due to traditions of having larger families amongst second generation migrant families.

He said: “It’s likely that second generation immigrants are a factor in this but we don’t have ethnicity on birth registrations, so we don’t have the data to show that. I suspect the larger proportion of births to non-uk born women will be contributing to the UK-born fertility rates too, because of second generation migrants [with cultural ties to their families’ country of origin].”

Dorman also believes women having babies later has contributed to the rise : “We’ve seen over the last ten to 15 years gradual increases in older mothers. More and more mothers are having children at an older age. We’re seeing the same number of births for women aged 25-35 but we’re also seeing women having an additional birth later. These top up rather than replace younger births.”

Figures released last August show this rise in births continued after the 2011 census. Soaring numbers of babies born in the year to mid-2012 meant Britain’s population rose by more than 400,000 in a single year - the largest increase of any European Union member state - putting the total at 63.7 million.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk