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 530.

    I have to tell one truth to my English brothers though it will be hard for them to digest.Have they ever thought why so many migrants from Indian Subcontinent? Because they know basic English,so they thought its easier to survive in UK than in Germany or France. How do they know English? Because England Ruled them for 400+ years and treated them as slaves. What you give is what you take.

  • rate this

    Comment number 529.

    It is only natural excuse the pun that immigrants have children isn't it. Immigrants have merely filled the space that was once occupied by the "working classes" who now appear to have joined lower middle class or 'underclass'. I actually do not see anything negative about this story and if rich landowners parted with some of their land for house building we would be far less crowded wouldn't we.

  • rate this

    Comment number 528.

    HALF A MILLION IMMIGRANTS A YEAR. In London, the indigenous population is already less than 50% of those living there. We are being outbred and we will be outed from our homes. The country has been given away to people who don't speak our language and who don't share our culture... and no doubt I will be called a racist for deigning to comment on this; should the BBC actually publish it, that is!

  • rate this

    Comment number 527.

    Governement dept4propergander
    Just now

    The photo shows white babies, however I expect(and correct me if I'm wrong) the increase is down to the immigrant population
    Correction, your wrong sorry, unless you want to present some facts to support your racism ?

    When did we become so fearful that we place all our problems on immigrants, while we're at it do they spread plague as well?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 526.

    @23. Jon Newman
    > Almost half a million in a single year!! Extrapolate that (and more) over the next twenty years...scary stuff.

    The baby boomers will all die over the next twenty five years so it's not as bad you think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 525.

    I can believe most of the population growth is here in London and the south east. Come to Shadwell and Whitechapel to see the pram jams...... but it is not the British who are multiplying!

  • rate this

    Comment number 524.

    truly depressing.
    And I'm guessing that the most people having children are the ones who shouldn't be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 523.


    And how many of us British move overseas including to countries with there own NHS, and end up having kids at the expense of the Indigenous population, Plus there is the whole issue over the treatment of the Ghurkhas in Britain, it took the very English accented what, what and all that Indian Born Joanna Lumley to win there rights, stop bashing others learn a language etc...

  • rate this

    Comment number 522.

    There's a relatively easy solution to reducing these numbers by half
    Offer a free pizza & smartphone in exchange for THE SNIP and advertise it on Jeremy Kyle or Big Brother...

  • rate this

    Comment number 521.

    If everyone (incl. the politicians) didn't think London and the South East was the centre of the universe, this over population 'problem' that everyone is harking on about wouldn't be a problem at all.

    People (and businesses) should try the north, or Wales (where I live) a bit more - the people are nicer and, god forbid, there's space for us all!


  • rate this

    Comment number 520.

    Richard Richardson - Love your comment - we need a new generation. If only this were true. You may be the parent of young children but I have a 21 year old who can't get work doing anything. As for all these babies paying taxes etc in the future. Just like us they will eventually age and need looking after. What do we do then? Carry on importing people because I see it as a vicious circle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 519.

    I left the UK permanently last year along with my son- nobody questioned me - as far as theyre concerned Im on a long holiday and not included in the data!
    I sold all my assets in the UK and sent the money to my new country (outside EU). The number of UK nationals leaving is far higher than suggested. The immigrants comming to UK often dont bring skills or money - just more kids unfortunately.

  • rate this

    Comment number 518.

    "Why don't you move to Slough"

    Ha! I don't think immigrants even want to live there anymore. It's quite surreal and eye-opening when you drive from Slough to Windsor or vice versa. It's like two different countries.

    Am I right in thinking that northerners are little more tolerant towards this ideology? That's the impression I always got.

  • rate this

    Comment number 517.

    If all these comments state that immigrants are having all these children, why is that nice Mr Cameron sending all that tax payers money abroad ?

  • Comment number 516.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 515.

    This would be wonderful if the country was able to sustain a higher population. I think Mother Nature will have her say!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 514.

    We have come to the point where as a species we have circled the globe (Earth) in many different ways.

    We either have to very quickly find another planet and get everybody on it, or manage ourselves compassionately and intelligently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 513.

    NONE of the 7 highest rated comments has been selected by the Editor.

    Whether or not you agree with these comments, this is not balanced reporting.

    If you agree with me, click the up-arrow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.

    Well I guess people had to find something to alleviate the boredom in the post-recession years. Unfortunately this country is overcrowded, and its these future generations that are going to really suffer for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 511.

    It's the quality of the population that matters not the size. If our immigrants bring skills the economy needs then this is good news. Likewise if people having babies can raise them with a good education and work ethic then this is also good news.
    We need to know the level of education and employment status of each 'new' person over the age of 18 to determine if immigration is good or bad.


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