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 450.

    Is it a coincidence that the Czech republic, whilst being twice the size of Finland has only half as many recorded births?

    Is this typically historical? Or does it have anything to do with the UK surge?

  • rate this

    Comment number 449.

    402.Jettison the Jinxed UK Junta
    813,200 babies in one year, I'm still in shock, thanks Mr Blair ...

    Since Cameron was PM in the year in question I'm assuming you think Blair has so much free time that he's been going round impregnating all these women? Or are you blaming him for births last year even though he resigned in 2007? I personally blame Pit the Younger in that case!

  • rate this

    Comment number 448.

    With MY country crumbling because of over population - bad government and benefit payments is it any wonder I am worried?

    But if I say why I am a racist - I think that is racist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 447.

    We need the one child policy here , population is out of control !

  • rate this

    Comment number 446.

    Birthrates are also rising sharply in Sweden, Denmark and finland, but I'm guessing their Kindergartens aren't going to be full to the brim with blue eyed blonde children...

  • rate this

    Comment number 445.

    This carries on, we are going to start sinking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 444.

    would be useful to have an ethnic breakdown of births, the fact that most of growth has arisen in London tells its own story...
    London rise was 104k, immigration was 69k, birth increase 35k

    birth increase in UK was 254k, London accounts for 14% of that.

    London pop is 15mil , UK 63 mil, London is 23% of pop

    so... 14% birth increase of UK with 23% of the pop... less then average!

  • rate this

    Comment number 443.


    Whats 'taters precious?

  • rate this

    Comment number 442.

    So obvious this headline would create a load of immigration debates, so I'm gonna join in.
    We are in the EU, free trade, free travel, so anyone from a member state can come join the fun. Likewise, Brits can also leave, like we have been for many decades (just ask the Spanish, Aussies, Middle East, Cyprus/Turkey). Immigration is our right.
    As for Britain being full, it isn't, and nor is Spain!

  • rate this

    Comment number 441.

    So much more to this. No wonder our services are under so much pressure.

  • Comment number 440.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 439.

    "Nothing wrong just multicultural remnants of a great Britain, please accept this, it is what it is."

    Sick to death of hearing this. NO! Britain is not a multicultural country, it is a country made of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We have our cultures, YOU respect them, not the other way around!

  • rate this

    Comment number 438.

    The furore over "racist" illegal immigrant vans recently demonstrates the ultimate logic of equality and non-discrimation laws is that immigration officials should not be able to discriminate against non-UK / EU citizens in the UK.

    By its very nature immigration policy is directly & indirectly discriminatory. We choose this because we want to protect our living standards & social cohesion

  • rate this

    Comment number 437.

    Being concerned about immigration is NOT racist. However, there are plenty of racist comments on this thread. The issue of immigration is too often hijacked by the the hard of thinking "I'm not racist but...." brigade. Unchecked immigration is unsustainable much like a capitalist economic system based on the risible lie that it is possible to achieve infinite growth with finite resources :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 436.

    Great,just as the planets struggling to home,feed and fuel the already over-populated countries,the birth rate goes up.Mankinds hardly on the verge of extinction,so why are we trying to put mankind on the verge of wiping himself out through selfishness and greed? Man could actually do with a good cull,we do it to all other animals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 435.

    Dont really understand why my comment #392 is being marked down.

    Think it is a sign of the benefit culture that people disagree that we all have a right to better ourselves, and to get up off our a*ses and work hard

  • rate this

    Comment number 434.

    @347. jurassicflood
    A word of caution. If we do not have more young people to look after the increasing number of old people living well into their 90's and 100's where are the carers, nurses, etc to come from?

    maximum age? consent of the person giving up their life of course, and by with a hefty set of safeguards to protect people who want to live on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 433.

    Just now
    I am an immigrant with the 5th child on it way, and I think people are overreacting here


  • rate this

    Comment number 432.

    I'd like to know how many of these births can be attributed to the Beckhams. I'm not racist or anything, I just don't want the country that I love being over run by children with silly names

    - Proud, Anglo-Saxon Roman Catholic who drives a Mini.

  • rate this

    Comment number 431.

    The govt will SAVE money in the future by sterilizing those people who refuse to work. Saving money on benefits, health, housing, schooling (which will be wasted as not motivated to do well at school)

    If these people want to have children in the future, they themselves have got to pay for the reverse and they won't get any benefits.

    Having children is a privilege, not a right,


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