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Fertility rates in England and Wales rise for first time in decade – ONS

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Published on 23/03/2022

Fertility rates in England and Wales have increased slightly for the first time in a decade, driven by women at older ages, figures show.

There were 625,008 live births in 2021, an increase of 1.5% from 615,557 live births in 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is the first year-on-year increase since 2015, but live births in 2021 still remain “well below” the 2019 number, it said.

The majority of the increase in live births occurred during the second half of the year.

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The total fertility rate (TFR) in 2021 was an estimated 1.61 children per woman, compared with 1.58 in 2020 – the first annual rise since 2012.

This is the average number of live children that a woman would bear if they experienced the age-specific fertility rates of 2021 throughout their childbearing years.

Despite the slight annual increase, the TFR in 2021 was still lower than in 2019 and in the previous 10 years.

There was also a slight rise in the general fertility rate – from 55.1 live births per 1,000 women in 2020 to 55.8 live births per 1,000 women in 2021.

This is the first annual rise since 2016.

The ONS said the increase in fertility has been driven by women at older ages, with the rate decreasing for women under 24 and increasing in all other age groups.

The largest rise was in women aged 35 to 39, with the fertility rate rising from 59.4 live births per 1,000 women in 2020 to 62.5 in 2021 (5.2%).

The figures also show that the number of stillbirths increased – from 2,429 in 2020 to 2,628 in 2021 – but numbers remain relatively small.


The stillbirth rate in 2021 rose to 4.2 stillbirths per 1,000 births, from 3.9 stillbirths per 1,000 births in 2020, a 7.7% increase.

It is now similar to the rate observed in 2018.

James Tucker, head of health and life events analysis at the ONS, said: “The number of births increased year-on-year for the first time since 2015.

“However, the total number remains in line with the long-term trend of decreasing births observed in pre-coronavirus years.

“There was also an increase in stillbirths compared with 2020, especially in the second half of 2021, and it is important to remember each and every stillbirth is a tragedy for the family involved.

“While this increase coincides with a higher number of live births during this period, when looking at 2021 stillbirth rates in relation to historical years, they are mostly in line with what we saw prior to the pandemic.”



Do you think there has been an increase in babies over the last couple of years?  Let us know in the comment section below!

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