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 550.

    The fact that the top rated comment felt the need to use the phrase "whisper it quietly" tells us what's really at the root of this and why our spineless politicians (of all parties) are unfit to govern.

  • rate this

    Comment number 549.

    Some equate population growth with more dependency and then say that as some pop growth is down to immigration (or births to ethnic minority Brits), these groups are the cause of more dependency. This is wrong. We have low pop growth. Immigration is the best sort because most are working age. UK nationals disproportionately use the benefits system. Immigrants subsidise it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    508.Norman Brooke
    "479. Actually Scotland is underpopulated and has been since the TERRORISM of the highland clearances."
    The Inclosures in England were even more extreme and all-embracing than the Clearances.
    At that time industrialisation absorbed the displaced, but what will happen to the next wave of displaced as new technology (eventually) comes in is very difficult to say.

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    An increasing population puts increasing pressure on our environment. Many of our systems, such as financial sustainability and pensions, rely on population growth but as our population balloons so our problems with carbon emissions, fuel poverty, housing and food poverty will grow. You cannot talk about sustainability without mentioning population.

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.

    @488. The most popular boys name in the UK is Harry.

  • Comment number 545.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    Why are BOTH babies in the picture white anglo saxon/celtic looking? Surely this is racist?! And inaccurate.

    Is it a cynically ironic joke or brainwashing propaganda?
    Well, we don't buy it or find it funny.

  • rate this

    Comment number 543.

    Can someone tell the government? The Tories may need to think about opening schools. training teachers and health professionals instead of cutting them without taking in to account population fluctuations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    Stop children benefit and children tax credit and increase tax by 2% for family with more of two children and up to 4 and 10% increase above 4.
    Population increase is the must serious problem in all the world fine let pay people to have more children.

  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    It is inevitable that immigration will add disproportionately to the birthrate. The vast majority of new immigrants are of child bearing age whereas the vast majority of the UK born population are not.
    As a rule of thumb every immigrant will increase the UK population by 2 on average over a 20 year planning cycle.
    This probably makes the current levels unsustainable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.

    "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?!"

    No, just TB and AIDS that they get treated for on the NHS. How long will this comment stay I wonder?

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    508.Norman Brooke
    "Scotland should naturally have about 6.5 million people but only as about 5.3 million. Most of Scotland is forrest and mountains but there is really plenty of other space. Lets keep it that way."

    The guy haranguing Farage said "Immigrants are welcome here"
    Can we send you our surplus?

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    Wonderful, now we'll have even more 1st generation kids who won't be able to speak English because their parents can't. But hey, let's look after them, let's get get all our state documentation into 20 languages to make them feel at home, let's allow them to do their physical and theory driving test with translators, let's pay ¬ charge for translators when arrested & found guilty. Help!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 537.

    All time high for new babies, the governments get paid per child policy has paid off. How many are actually British.

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    I remember a friend of mine who went to work in France telling me he would never be able to receive a state pension because you had to pay into it for so many years before you qualified.
    Not sure if that still applies but I think it is about time we did something like that over here.
    The EEC would probably say it was illegal if we did. We need to seriously look at the terms of our EEC membership.

  • rate this

    Comment number 535.

    Simply not sustainable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 534.,
    Or birth rates will naturally decline as prosperity increases causing the population to naturally plateau and eventually decline,.. just look at pretty much all of the first world,.. fertility well below 2.
    The thing is to bring Africa and Asia to first world standards such that things like college, careers, hobbies become and option and not just having heaps of kids.

  • rate this

    Comment number 533.

    It may well be due to the high birth rates amongst immigrants coming over to enjoy the generous benefits available to them whilst the screw is turned ever tighter on indigenous welfare claimants. But then as gordon brown once called a woman, i'm probably a bigot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 532.

    Has the England football team improved from encouraging more overseas players into the Premiership? Thanks Tony and your gang of disastrous ministers, just as long as you are getting your Labour votes.

    We can be selective, but instead we just cant be bothered because of the fear of the terrible press.

  • rate this

    Comment number 531.

    Lefties throwing the race card out like confetti when someone calls immigration into the argument should be ashamed. Crying racist, when it is obviously not racist, makes it much harder to tackle the issue of racism, what do people not understand about that. People try to make racism about power or something, fact is racism is prejudice against a race, immigration debate isnt that.


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