Scotland's birth rate continues to fall

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The birth rate in Scotland in the last three months of the year has fallen to its lowest level since records began.

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) has released the figures from 1 October to 31 December 2018.

A total of 12,580 births were registered - the lowest fourth quarterly figure since 1855.

It was the second lowest figure since records began - only beaten by 2002, when 12,374 births were recorded in the first quarter of the year.

Paul Lowe, the Registrar General for Scotland, said there had been a downward trend since 2008.

"This is the second record-low number of quarterly births in a row, with quarter three also falling to its lowest level in 2018," he said.

"The number of deaths fell compared to the recent peak recorded in the fourth quarter of 2017, but was slightly higher than the average of the previous five years."

The provisional figures suggest the number of births registered in Scotland in the last three months of 2018 was 5.9% lower than the fourth quarter average over the past five years

The total number of fourth quarter births fell to a previous low of 12,785 in 2000 then rose to 14,540 in 2008, before falling in more recent years.

The NRS report states: "There is no single reason for the fall in the number of births, but possible causes may include the postponement of childbearing until older ages, often meaning that women will have fewer children; and economic uncertainty influencing decisions around childbearing, particularly given that the beginning of the recent fall coincided with the financial crash a decade ago."

A total of 14,484 deaths were registered in the last three months of 2018, down by 4.7% on the same period of 2017.

The finalised figures for all of 2018 will be released in June.

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