The number of births in England and Wales fell in 2022 to the lowest level in two decades, official figures show.
About 600,000 live births were registered between the two countries last year – 3.1 percent less than in 2021.
The figure has been in free fall for a decade, barring a 2021 outlier that was attributed to a mini-baby ‘bounce’ by couples putting their family plans on hold at the onset of the Covid pandemic.
Experts believe the trend is partly due to women focusing on their education and careers and couples waiting to have children until later in life.
The UK’s fragile economy and cost of living are also deterring people from having children, some say, evidenced by the simultaneous rise in abortion rates.
About 600,000 live births were expected between the two countries last year – 3.1 percent less than in 2021. The figure has been on a downward trend since 2012, when about 730,000 births were recorded
The graph shows the number of live births per age group in 2022 (red) compared to ten years earlier (blue). The number of new mothers in their teens and early 20s has halved, while those in their late 20s have fallen by a fifth. But those who wait until their late 30s and 40s have increased
Experts argue that people’s financial situation increasingly plays a role in decisions about whether or not to start a family.
Others cite the environment, with people fearing that they will exacerbate their carbon footprint by having a child or that their child will have a bleak future due to climate change.
Other reasons for the plummeting birth rates are better access to contraception and lower infant mortality.
There is no evidence Covid vaccines are to blame, with scientists insisting there is no evidence they harm fertility.
The ONS data shows there were 605,479 live births between the two nations in 2022 – 577,046 in England and 28,296 in Wales.
This was the lowest number since 2002 and was 20,000 fewer than in 2021.
The decline is in line with pre-pandemic trends, which e.gExperts also fear it will continue.
Nearly half of adults in the UK say they do not want children, separate data revealed last year. Many cited financial reasons.
Experts fear the falling birth rate will leave Britain with an aging population, put additional strain on the NHS and social care, and hamper economic growth.
James Tucker, the ONS’ head of health analysis, said: ‘The annual number of births in England and Wales continues its recent decline, with 2022 seeing the lowest number of live births in two decades.’
Less than half of new mothers (48.6 percent) were married or in a registered partnership when they gave birth in 2022 – the lowest number on record.
Single mothers overtook those in pairs for the first time ever last year.
The rate peaked at 96 percent in the early 1900s, before falling to 80 percent in 1985, 70 percent in 1991, and 60 percent in 2001.
It comes amid a trend of couples focusing on their careers and getting married and having children later in life.
Figures show that more older women than ever are becoming mothers. About 31,228 people over 40 have given birth in 2022 – up from 30,542 in 2021 and 17,336 in 2002.
But despite the fact that the number of older mothers has skyrocketed in recent decades, dDoctors often warn women not to leave it too late to have children.
Fertility decreases with age and the risk of complications, including stillbirth, increases.
Women in their late 40s have an estimated 1 in 20 chance of conceiving naturally because they have fewer eggs, which are less likely to be fertilized.
The demand for donor eggs, one of the most common methods for older women to have a baby, has skyrocketed in recent years.
Other options include IVF — when a woman’s eggs are collected and mixed with sperm in a lab before being returned to the uterus — and intrauterine insemination, when sperm is introduced directly into a woman’s uterus.
While births to women in their 20s and 30s fell across the board, teen births increased for the first time in nearly two decades.
In 2022, approximately 14,755 became mothers, an increase of 7.4 percent in one year.
However, the figure is in line with pre-pandemic levels. A record low of 13,738 teen births was recorded in 2021, which experts say was due to Covid curbs preventing the young from hooking up.
There were 2,433 stillbirths in 2022 – when a baby is born at 24 weeks but is not breathing or showing signs of life. The figure is down by 164 (6.3 percent) compared to 2021
Meanwhile, there were 2,433 stillbirths in 2022 — when a baby is born at 24 weeks but wasn’t breathing or showing signs of life.
The figure is down 164 (6.3 percent) from 2021. It means there were four stillbirths per 1,000 births – down from 4.1 in 2021 but higher than the 3.9 recorded in 2019.
Rates were highest in the North East and West Midlands (4.3 per 1,000) and lowest in the South West (2.9 per 1,000).
Advances in neonatal care, a decline in smoking rates among pregnant women — one of the leading causes of stillbirth — and a greater focus on identifying babies at risk have been credited with reducing the rate from 41.4 per 1,000 in the s thirty.
The government in England has plans to halve the number of stillbirths in 2010 by 2025, which means the figure should fall to 2.6 per 1,000 in three years’ time.
It’s because separate ONS figures published today show that three in 10 newborns in England and Wales will have non-UK-born mothers by 2022 – almost twice as many as two decades ago.
Of these 183,309 babies, mothers were most likely to be from India, while fathers were most likely to be from Pakistan.