Number of babies born to foreign mothers in England and Wales hit record high last year

Nearly a third of babies born in England and Wales last year were of foreign mothers, the highest number since registration began four decades ago.

Official figures released today showed that up to 75 per cent of births were among women born outside the UK in the most ethnically diverse parts of England – the top nine being in London.

Most foreign mothers were born in Pakistan and Romania — about one in 11 — or Poland — about one in 12, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The data also showed that 613,936 babies were born in the two home countries in 2020 — a 4.1 percent drop from 2019 and the lowest figure since 2002.

Meanwhile, the overall fertility rate — the average number of children each woman has — hit a record low and the birth rate fell among all age groups, including those over 35.

The numbers don’t yet show the impact of the coronavirus pandemic – which experts said MailOnline could push the birth rate even lower – as babies born in 2020 were conceived before the crisis hit the UK.

But there could be a baby boom on the way, after NHS figures earlier this year revealed the number of prenatal appointments booked in the last three months of 2020 was the highest in five years.

Experts cited better access to contraception and difficulties conceiving as couples delay having children as factors that could fuel the decline, reflecting a trend seen over the past decade. But studies have also suggested that people are avoiding having children because of concerns about raising them during a pandemic and climate emergency.

The graph shows the estimated total fertility rate – how many babies each woman has on average – from 2004 to 2020. The gap between babies born in the UK (dark blue line) and women born outside the UK (light blue line) widened by a third. year in a row. The fertility rate among women born in the UK fell to 1.58, while it rose to 1.98 among those born elsewhere

The chart shows the 10 most common countries of birth for women who gave birth in England and Wales, but were born elsewhere, in 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2020. In the most recent year, Pakistan became the most common country of birth for non-British mothers

The chart shows the 10 most common countries of birth for women who gave birth in England and Wales, but were born elsewhere, in 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2020. In the most recent year, Pakistan became the most common country of birth for non-British mothers

The chart shows the 10 most common countries of birth for fathers born outside the UK, in 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2020. In the most recent year, Pakistan remained the most common country

The chart shows the 10 most common countries of birth for fathers born outside the UK, in 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2020. In the most recent year, Pakistan remained the most common country

What was the fertility rate among the different age groups?

Under 20: 10 babies born per 1,000 women

20- to 24-year-olds: 44.8 babies born per 1,000 women

25-29 year olds: 84.6 babies born per 1,000 women

30 to 34 year olds: 102.5 babies born per 1,000 women

35 to 39 year olds: 59.8 babies born per 1,000 women

Over 40s: 16 babies born per 1,000 women

The number of babies born in England and Wales in 2020 was 4.1 percent lower than in 2019 and the lowest number in 18 years.

The ONS warned the figure was a “slight underestimate” of the actual number delivered, due to birth registration delays caused by the pandemic.

Since the most recent peak in 2012 – when 729,674 babies were born – the number of births has fallen by 15.9 percent.

And the total fertility rate fell to 1.58 children per woman – the lowest since registration began in 1938.

The figure is down 4.2 percent from a year earlier and is 3.1 percent lower than the previous low of 1.63 children per woman.

The ONS cited improved access to contraception, lower fertility levels and difficulties conceiving as couples delay having children as factors that could fuel the decline since 2012.

They also said that a reduction in the death rate among children under the age of five could lead to women having fewer babies.

Growing fears of climate change have also been put forth as a theory for the downturn.

Researchers in Singapore last year found that nearly everyone in their 600-person survey was concerned about raising their children in “apocalyptic conditions” caused by climate change.

The average woman gave birth in 2020 at the age of 30.7 – the same age as in 2019 – which has been gradually increasing since 1973.

And the decline in fertility has occurred across all age groups — even among women over 40, which fell for the first time since 2013.

Only 10 live births were recorded per 100,000 women under the age of 20, and the rate subsequently increased among 20- to 24-year-olds (44.8 per 100,000), 25- to 29-year-olds (84.6 per 100,000) and 30- to 24-year-olds. 34-year-olds (102.5 per 100,000).

Birth rates subsequently declined for women in their mid to late 30s (59.8 per 100,000) and women over 40 (16 per 100,000).

ONS statistics also showed that the number of stillbirths fell for the fourth consecutive year, with 3.8 stillbirths per 1,000 total births in 2020. Last year, a total of 2,371 were recorded, six percent lower than in 2019 and the lowest number recorded since the beginning of the year. start of registration. in 1927.

The government announced plans in 2014 to halve the number of stillbirths to 2010 levels. To achieve this, the number would need to drop further to 2.6 per 1,000 births.

Of the babies born last year, 179,881 (29.3 per cent) were born to women from outside the UK – the highest number since the measurements began in 1969 and continuing the long-term trend.

The average UK-born woman had 1.5 children last year – a decrease of 4.5 per cent from 2019 – compared to 2 among women born outside the UK – a 0.5 per cent increase from the previous year. previous year.

And 34.8 percent of all children born in England and Wales had one or both parents who were born outside the UK.

Non-British mothers were most likely to come from Pakistan (9.2 percent), Romania (8.7 percent) or Poland (8.1 percent).

And among couples born outside the UK, the mothers and fathers were most likely from Pakistan or Romania.

Nine areas of London had the highest rates of babies born to foreign mothers, with Brent (75.8 percent), Harrow (74.8 percent) and Newham (73.8 percent) having the highest rates.

These parts of the region were followed by Westminster (72.8 percent), Ealing (70.9 percent) and Hounslow (70.7 percent).

The top nine is completed by Kensington and Chelsea (69.9 percent), Barking and Dagenham (68.2 percent) and Redbridge (66.2 percent).

dr. Ying Cheong, professor of reproductive medicine at the University of Southampton and fertility consultant at Complete Fertility Southampton, told MailOnline: ‘The fertility rate has fallen in the UK and was already at an all-time low pre-pandemic. This trend is consistent worldwide.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Covid pushes this further – given that the pandemic is putting a significant psychological burden on people in general in general, and evolutionarily speaking, as a ‘fight or flight’ response, the last thing on your mind is to to reproduce!’

But she said there has been a “significant increase in people signing up for fertility treatment,” which may be due to the pandemic causing people to “rethink their personal lives and the importance of family.”

But she noted the true fertility rate as Covid won’t be available until next year.

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