Scotland’s birth rates hit all-time low

8 April 2019

Births in Scotland. Credit: National Records of Scotland

National Records of Scotland report also highlights the number of deaths to have occurred in the three month period

Data released by The National Records of Scotland has shown that birth rates in Scotland are at the lowest level since records began.

Between 1 October and 31 December 2018, there were 12,580 children born. The data suggests that births have fallen by 5.9% in the last five years. Over the last few years, the rate has fluctuated a little, but shows a steady decline.

A National Records of Scotland spokesperson said:

“Over the long term, births have been falling, and numbers are now roughly half the level seen in the early 1960s.  After reaching a low point in 2003, the number of births began to increase, in part due to EU expansion in 2004 which led to an increase in the female population of childbearing age.”

In 2000 birth rates were at a low of 12,785, but by 2008 it rose up to 14,540 per annum before decreasing again in the last few years. The study identified that there is no single reason for the decrease in birth rates, but it could potentially be due to women postponing the age at which they have children, as more and more women choose to focus on their careers.

In recent years, childlessness has doubled as women have put off the decision to have children in favour of pursuing their career. Research has shown that there was a dramatic rise in women reaching middle age without having children. The trend is also likely to continue among the current generation of young women.

The result of having children at an older age also means that potential mothers are more likely to have fewer children. This is again due to a variety of reasons, particularly due to the rising cost of raising children. A large percentage of parents say that they would like to have more children, but that cost was the deciding factor influencing their decision not to.

Ross says: “Possible reasons for the recent fall may include economic uncertainty following the financial crash in 2008 and the austerity which followed.”

The data also highlighted that the number of deaths that have happened in the country has fallen, however it was still slightly higher than the previous five years.

Paul Lowe, the registrar general of Scotland said:

“The number of deaths fell compared to the recent peak recorded in the fourth quarter of 2017.”

In Scotland, there were 14,848 deaths registered which was 4.7 percent lower than in 2007. There was also a significant decrease in the number of deaths by illness, which is shown below:

Number of deaths by illness. Infographic: Emma Lawson

This could be due to medical advancements in areas such as cancer research, which has received significant funding in recent years.

You can read the full report here.

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