The birth rate has fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade years figures released this morning show as more couples are deferring the decision to have children or are having smaller families.
There were 679,106 live births in England and Wales in 2017, a decrease of 2.5% from 2016 and the lowest number of live births since 2006. Last year the total fertility rate (TFR) declined for the fifth consecutive year to 1.76 children per woman, from 1.81 in 2016.
‘Fertility rates decreased for every age group in 2017, except for women aged 40 years and over, where the rate increased by 1.3% to 16.1 births per 1,000 women in that age group, reaching the highest level since 1949 and the average age of mothers in 2017 increased to 30.5 years, from 30.4 years in 2016 and 26.4 years in 1975.
The infant mortality rate also increased for the first time in five years to 4 deaths per 1,000 live births in England and Wales in 2017. The neonatal mortality rate also increased for the second consecutive year while the stillbirth rate in 2017 was at its lowest level on record. This follows declines since 2011.
“Birth rates for live births have decreased for all women except those aged 40 years and over where the birth rate has continued to rise, following a trend seen for the last 40 years. Despite this, the proportion of women aged 40 years and over having a baby still remains below that seen in the 1940s.” said Nicola Haines for the ONS.