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Fertility rate in England and Wales falls to lowest level on record

By PA News

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(Andrew Matthews/PA)

The number of babies being born per woman in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level on record, figures show.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows the total fertility rate fell to 1.58 children per woman in 2020 – the lowest since records began in 1938.

The rate is 4.2% lower than 2019 and 3.1% lower than the previous record low in 2001, when the rate was 1.63.

According to the ONS, the fertility rate has been decreasing for a number of reasons, including improved access to contraception, women delaying motherhood and women having fewer babies.

The figures show there were 613,936 live births in England and Wales in 2020, a decrease of 4.1% from 2019.

It is the fifth year in a row that the number of babies born has fallen and is the lowest since 2002.

Last year saw 29.3% of live births were among women who were born outside the UK.

This is the highest since records began in 1969 and is part of a general long-term increase, the ONS said.

The total fertility rate among foreign-born mothers increased slightly to 1.98, at a time when the rate for UK-born women decreased to 1.50.

Pakistan was the most common country of birth for both non-UK born mothers and fathers for the first time since 2009. The second most common country was Romania for both parents.

There were 2,371 stillbirths in England and Wales last year, which amounts to 3.8 per 1,000 births, the figures show.

This is down from 3.9 stillbirths per 1,000 births in 2019.

The average age of new mothers is 30.7 years – the same as in 2019, following a gradual increase since 1973.

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