UK

Live births fell to lowest level for two decades last year

Figures show there were 605,479 live births in England and Wales in 2022 (PA)
Figures show there were 605,479 live births in England and Wales in 2022 (PA) Figures show there were 605,479 live births in England and Wales in 2022 (PA)

Last year saw the lowest number of live births in England and Wales for two decades, according to the latest statistics which also show the highest proportion born to mothers from outside the UK since records began.

India has replaced Romania as the most common country of birth for non-UK-born mothers, according to the figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

There were 605,479 live births in England and Wales in 2022, the data shows.

This is down 3.1% from 624,828 in 2021 and the lowest number since 2002.

It follows the recent trend of decreasing live births which had been the case before the pandemic, the ONS said.

Some 30.3% of all live births in England and Wales in 2022 were to non-UK-born mothers, up from 28.8% the previous year.

While India replaced Romania as the most common country of birth for non-UK-born mothers, Pakistan was the most common country of birth for non-UK-born fathers, the ONS said.

There were 17,745 live births to Indian mothers, a 16.3% increase from 15,260 in 2021.

Romania dropped back to become the third most common country for non-UK-born mothers, but the number of live births in this group remained relatively stable, the ONS said, with 15,894 in 2021 and 15,518 in 2022.

Afghanistan was the seventh most common, appearing in the top 10 for the first time since reporting began in 2003.

The country’s position in the top 10 coincides with the increase in Afghan arrivals to the UK through Government resettlement schemes, the ONS said, in the wake of the Taliban takeover of the country two years ago.

James Tucker, head of health analysis at the ONS, said: “The annual number of births in England and Wales continues its recent decline, with 2022 recording the lowest number of live births seen for two decades.

“Almost a third of all those births were to non-UK-born women. This is the highest proportion of live births to non-UK-born women seen since our records began, with India now the most common country of birth for non-UK-born parents.”

London continued to have the highest percentage of births out of all the English regions and Wales where one or both parents were born outside UK, with two-thirds of such live births in the capital last year.

Across the two nations, the number of live births to UK-born women fell from 445,055 in 2021 to 422,109 in 2022.

The number of live births to non-UK-born women rose from 179,726 in 2021 to 183,309 in 2022 – with this 2% increase in live births to non-UK-born mothers the first in five years.

The number of births occurring outside of marriage or civil partnership remains higher than births within marriage or civil partnership in England and Wales.

There were 311,306 live births (51.4%) registered to women outside of a marriage or civil partnership in 2022.

October saw the highest number of live births last year, while February saw the lowest.

The number of stillbirths across the two nations last year was 2,433, which was down 6.3% compared with 2021.

The ONS said birth statistics represent births that occur and are then registered in England and Wales.