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Almost half of births in Northern Ireland outside of marriage last year

New statistics show 44 per cent of births in Northern Ireland last year were outside of marriage

ALMOST half of births in Northern Ireland last year were outside of marriage.

Statistics released yesterday show there were 24,215 births during 2015 - with 44 per cent being outside of marriage.

The annual report by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) revealed births to mothers aged 35 and over continues to rise, accounting for 22 per cent of the overall total - up from 11 per cent 30 years ago.

The average age of mothers in the north was 30.5 years, up just slightly from 30.4 years in 2014.

First time mothers accounted for 38 per cent of all births, while just 9.3 per cent of mothers already had three or more children, compared with 17 per cent in 1985, reflecting the trend towards smaller family sizes.

The number of teenagers giving birth has also reached an all-time low.

There were 343 sets of twins and seven sets of triplets born during the year.

The statistics also revealed there were 76 stillbirths registered during 2015, down 6.2 per cent on 2014 the lowest number ever recorded in Northern Ireland.

The figures also show there were 8,355 marriages and 89 civil partnerships registered last year, equivalent to roughly one every hour.

August was the most popular month for weddings, but Saturday September 5 was the most popular day for couples to wed.

The past year also saw 2,360 divorces and seven civil partnership dissolutions granted with non-cohabitation remaining the most frequently recorded reason for separation.

Northern Ireland's population topped 1.85million in 2015 representing an increase of 11,100 people since mid-2014.

Population growth was experienced in each of the 11 council districts.

Of the 15,548 deaths in the past year, cancer continued to be the leading cause, accounting for 28 per cent.

The number of such deaths among men rose by seven per cent and decreased by five per cent for females.

Meanwhile, the number of people receiving employment and support allowance increased over the past year.

The number of people claiming financial help for anyone unable to work due to illness or disability rose from 116,680 in may 2015 to 121,720 in the following May.

Figures, revealed in the Northern Ireland Benefits Statistics Summary yesterday, also show that those receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance decreased by 5,590 to 35,560.

The number of state pension claimants was 307,550 - an increase of 1,180 on a year earlier, while there were 71,220 carer allowance claimants representing an increase of 2,050 since May 2015.

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