More UK births than any year since 1972, says ONS


One and a half born every minute: Mark Easton reports on the baby boom

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More babies were born in the UK in 2011-12 than any year since 1972, the Office for National Statistics says.

In all, 813,200 UK births were recorded in the year, said the ONS, contributing to population growth that was, in absolute terms, the highest in the EU.

UK population grew by 419,900 to 63.7 million between between June 2011 and June 2012, according to ONS estimates.

There were 254,400 more births than deaths and 165,600 more people coming to the UK than leaving.

There were 517,800 migrants from overseas while 352,100 people left the country.

The UK remains the third-most populous EU member state, behind Germany and France.

France's population grew by 319,100 to 65,480,500 over the same period while Germany's went up by 166,200 to 80,399,300, says the ONS.

Midwife 'shortage'

The mid-2012 populations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are now estimated to have been 53.5 million, 5.3 million, 3.1 million, and 1.8 million respectively.

These are the first estimates of population change to be released since the 2011 census. Births and deaths are major drivers in these figures, but migration accounts for about a third of the growth.

There has been a lot of political debate about whether our immigration figures are good enough, but we're pretty good at counting births and dead bodies, and we saw the largest number of births in one year since 1972. We are in the midst of a real baby boom.

And people are living longer. We have 26% more men now aged over 75 in the UK than we had in 2001. There are huge questions about who are going to be the breadwinners to provide the economic growth to look after the elderly.

A full quarter of all that increase in the population happened in London. Think of the impact that is going to have on resources: on schools, and on housing.

London's population has surged by 104,000, with high birth and immigration rates.

Together London, south-east and east England accounted for 53% of growth across the UK in the year while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland jointly accounted for 8%.

More than 51,000 people moved out of London, largely to the South East and East of England, the ONS data shows.

London recorded net international migration of 69,000 - the highest of all regions. Northern Ireland had the lowest net migration growth of about 400, the ONS said.

The capital also recorded 86,000 more births than deaths in the past year, while Scotland notched up 4,200 more births than deaths.

Alp Mehmet, of campaign group Migration Watch, claimed that immigration was "the main driver of population growth in the UK".

Mr Mehmet highlighted earlier ONS data which showed babies born to foreign born mothers "now account for over a quarter of the total while births to UK born mothers are remaining static".

"These figures have a significant bearing on future needs like school places and housing as well as services," he said.

"This is why the government has to stay the course in its efforts to bring immigration under control."

But some economists argue that there are advantages in having more children.

Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, said: "The medium to long-term benefits are substantial.

"The people who are being born now or the immigrants who are coming here now will help pay for our pensions and public services in the future."

A Home Office spokesman said: "Net migration is now at its lowest level for a decade showing we are continuing to bring immigration back under control.

"We will continue to work hard to bring net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament."

The EU's largest population increases

Country Mid-2011 (millions) Mid-2012 (millions) Increase % change

Note: Some totals may not add up due to rounding. Source: ONS

United Kingdom













































Czech Republic





Royal College of Midwives chief executive Cathy Warwick said the high number of births was putting "considerable pressures on maternity services and we are struggling to provide high quality antenatal and postnatal care".

She said: "England remains around 5,000 midwives short of the number required to provide mothers and babies with the high-quality service they need and deserve.

"Maternity care is the earliest health intervention of all and getting care right for mothers and babies is a vital part of supporting families and building a foundation for good health in later life."

In January, Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said there had been a "historical shortage" of midwives but he added: "The number of midwives is increasing faster than the birth rate."

There were 581,800 more children aged six and under in the UK in mid-2012 than in mid-2001.

But because of lower birth numbers around the turn of the millennium, the number of seven to 16-year-olds is 453,300 less than mid-2001.

At the other end of the population tree, the number of men aged 75 and over has increased by 26%, since mid-2001 compared with a 6% increase for women.

The ONS put this down to positive changes in male smoking habits and advances in health treatments for circulatory illnesses.

Male occupations over the same period have also become less physical and safer, it said.

Separately, the ONS has also released data showing that four million homes in the UK are still not connected to the internet.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 430.

    A few overpopulation comments here.
    The fact is however that with Thorium reactors and vertical farms we could produce more energy and food than we could ever need while using far less land. This would herald a new age of prosperity that would naturally drive down fertility rates as has happened in Europe which has sub-replacement fertility. Prosperity is the answer, NOT forced population control.

  • rate this

    Comment number 429.

    406. koolkarmauk

    Can't of tried that hard if you are asking a total stranger on a BBC blog for the link. There are scores of pages with jobs being advertised, google my friend google.


    Wow. Reed, eh? I never thought of that. I'll start packing the suitcase.

    Peace :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 428.

    One of the biggest problems facing humanity is population growth and no one is talking about it for fear of being labelled a racist. Everyone sees it's a problem but rather than tackle it we put our hope in the population just magically levelling of in 20-whatever. Yes, the population will level off because we'll run out of food and people will starve and they'll be wars over water and land. Great

  • rate this

    Comment number 427.

    How typical. The editors comments are all nicely selected in favour of pro immigration, and those who would consider the rest 'little englanders' despite the fact the most favoured comments are those pointing out the obvious fact this must be something to do with mass immigration, and failing multicultural policy. And some people wonder why people vote UKIP? Come on, wake up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 426.

    No Mr Cameron,

    We don't have a problem with Immigration , like we don't have a problem with you running the country.

  • Comment number 425.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 424.

    @384 This country has always had an imbalance of young to old, Actually that is good for the economy, up until the point of over crowding... Because over crowding, over shadows the economic gains of the young to old imbalance.The only way to humanly reduce population is to try and cut birth rates, Which is bad for the economy due to aging populous, until balance is achieved, m any years ahead.

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    Perhaps an expanding population wouldn't be such a problem if we actually invested in the education of this next generation, instead of shoving them through the same 1950s style system that has proved time and time again that it does not work. One-size-fits-all education is a waste of talent that could save this planet from issues such as this.

  • Comment number 422.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 421.

    The rhetoric of some regarding an Islamic wave of breeding intent on removing indigenous peoples of the British Isles out of their homes, the truth is this will not happen due to the anticipated introduction of new laws to limit child numbers in families which is a very sensible approach in an island state with limited land resources, Australia on the other hand every family needs to be a tribe

  • rate this

    Comment number 420.

    For fear of sparking the "real" debate, but we can't support the current population, how is this going to help matters. Congrats to all new parents however, why no further breakdown on numbers - is there another story behind these numbers the Govt want hidden, so as to NOT rile the average BRIT !! Time for someone to expose the hidden facts I think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 419.

    @377 Peter B
    "..parlty for selfish reasons as large families cost a lot,"
    What a load of tosh, how selfish and rude of you. We're the ones forced to pay a high price for housing because we are dumped at the back of any council housing queue and priced out by selfish greedy people. Would love to have had kids but could never afford it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 418.

    The first two children in the family get "Child support benefits'......any child born after that the parents get ZERO.
    Start reducing those 'benefits' on a year by year basis NOW. Currently you have six children or yr you get benefits for 5 max ...the year later 4..the yr later 3...then 2 full stop.
    It will make people THINK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 417.

    That's funny, as of 2010 the fertility rate in the UK was less than 1.95; the replacement fertility rate is more like 2.10. Have the storks been working overtime in the UK? In fact, all of the countries listed in the article have had fertility rates less than replacement rates, except possibly for France. The ghost of Malthus never stops moaning, does it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 416.

    Err.... So will the government reverse putting up the retirement age because the population is now getting younger? I'm not holding my breath!

  • rate this

    Comment number 415.

    Immigants! I knew it was them! Even when it was the bears, I knew it was them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 414.

    I tell what would be a very interesting scenario if it ever came to fruition. If the world went to war, I'd love to see the population of the UK after all those that felt it necessary, left to fight for their motherlands.

    I bet I’d get a seat on the tube!

  • rate this

    Comment number 413.

    The UK is a very attractive place to come and breed in. Free health and maternity care, free schools, free housing, freedom to build your own churches, practically free to build your own country!

    Us liberal white brits, who are a minority now in our own capital city and many towns, will look after you and all your children. We'll even pay to translate the benefit documents for you!

  • rate this

    Comment number 412.

    I reckon dragging kids into this rotten world is something of a mistake myself

  • rate this

    Comment number 411.

    We used to have Red squirrals...the Grey ones got rid of them....

    Need I say more?


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