Fertility rate rises in England and Wales for first time in a decade

Younger age groups are seeing declining fertility rates compared to older age groups, the Office for National Statistics says

Kate Ng
Tuesday 09 August 2022 12:34 BST
Fertility doctor and clinic staff call patient to tell them they are expecting

The fertility rate in England and Wales has risen for the first time since 2012, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed.

Official figures show that there were 624,828 live births registered in England and Wales in 2021, up 1.8 per cent from 2020.

It marks the first annual increase in live births since 2015. However, the rate still remains below the number of births registered in 2019.

The ONS also added that, despite the annual increase, the latest year “remains in line” with the long-term trend of falling live births since before the Covid pandemic hit in March 2020.

The total fertility rate increased to 1.61 children per woman in 2021, up from 1.58 in 2020. This is the first time it has risen since 2012.

The figure represents the average number of live children that a woman would bear if they experienced the age-specific fertility rates of 2021 throughout their childbearing years.

But the 2021 total fertility rate remained below the rate observed in 2019.

Fertility rates increased overall for all age groups, but the ONS recorded declining fertility rates among younger age groups while older age groups saw them increase.

The largest decrease in fertility rates was seen in those aged under 20 years (16 per cent), whereas older women between the ages of 35 and 39 saw fertility rates increase by five per cent.

The figures are based on birth registrations, but delays may mean that some births in 2021 are not covered.

The ONS also found that fertility rates increased across all regions of England in 2021, except London and the West Midlands. The east of England saw the highest increase in fertility rate, with 1.76 births per 1,000 women compared to 1.69 in 2020.

The total fertility rate for England was 1.62 children per woman in 2021, up from 1.59 in 2020.

Wales showed a slightly lower total fertility rate, with 1.49 children per woman in 2021 – however, this still marked the first annual increase in three years.

Of all the live births registered in 2021, 445,055 were to UK-born women, 179,726 were to non-UK-born women, and 47 to mothers whose birth country was not stated.

The figures also showed there were 2,597 stillbirths in 2021, up by 226 from 2020.

Non-UK-born mothers saw the percentage of live births decrease to 28.8 per cent in 2021 from 29.3 per cent in 2020, which is similar to the percentage in 2019.

The ONS said this was a result of a higher number of UK-born women giving birth.

The most common country of birth for non-UK-born mothers in 2021 was Romania, while Pakistan remained the most common country of birth for non-UK-born fathers.

Additional reporting by PA

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