Trends in UK fertility

by vimothy

ONS estimate the current (2009) UK total fertility rate (TFR) at 1.94. Mean TFR over the period 1999-2009 was 1.78. In 2001 TFR started to gradually rise from a historical low of 1.63 to its current level.

UK total fertility rate, 1999-2009

ONS’ Population Trends 2008 suggests three reasons that might explain the rise in TFR in the last decade. The first is the fact that women are tending to have children later in life. I.e., this is a statistical discrepancy and is unrelated to the number of children women have over the course of their lives (captured by the Completed Family Size measure). The second is the impact of immigration: migrants from high fertility countries will naturally have a higher TFR than native British. For example, in 2001, the TFR for Pakistani born women living in the UK was 4.7, compared to an overall UK average of 1.63. On the other hand, migrants from lower fertility states like EU countries will tend to have a similar TFR to the UK norm. The third is that increased support has been offered over the last decade to individuals with children. This support includes, for instance, Working Families Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, the Employment Act, the Work and Families Act, and so on. The article cites a study by Adam and Brewer (2004), which estimates that “state financial support for children in the UK grew 52 per cent in real terms between 1999 and 2003.”

Percentage of live births outside marriage, 1999-2009

During the same period, the percentage of children born outside marriage increased in a linear fashion, from 38.9 percent in 1999 to 46.2 percent in 2009. If the trend continues around 48 percent of children will have been born outside marriage in 2011.

Percentage of live births to non-UK born mothers, 1999-2009

Percentage of births to non-UK born mothers has also increased in a linear fashion over the decade, rising from 14.3 percent in 1999 to 24.7 percent in 2009. At current rates of growth, this suggests that this figure is around 27 percent of births today.