With few exceptions Europe has seen a declining fertility rate across the continent in recent years, but the United Kingdom has found itself defying that trend and in fact witnessing a significant rise in the average number of births per woman. It is not, however, British born mothers who are responsible.
With a current fertility rate of 1.9 births per woman, an increase of 12 per cent between 2003 and 2013, Britain ranks third among European Union nations behind France and Ireland, reports Sky News. Other major EU states such as Germany lag behind.
However, it is not the British born population who are giving birth at an increasing rate. Analysts suggest migration has in fact supported and indeed strengthened what would otherwise be declining rates of British childbirth, as women born in the UK are electing to have fewer children, or delaying starting a family.
Data now reveals that one in four mothers in the UK was born abroad, a statistic that has steadily increased since 1990, and they are more likely to have more children. Nina Steele, founder of the support group nonparents.com, puts it down to parental choice, saying:
“All the figures show that people born in or raised in the UK aren’t having many children, if at all. Immigrants are really the ones behind this birth rate.
“From my research I’m surprised how many women born or raised in the UK are choosing not to have children, not just because of infertility, but by choice.”
A strong birth rate is regarded as economically beneficial by experts who cite the need for a young population. Professor Ann Buchanan of Oxford University’s Department of Social Policy and Intervention explains:
“One of the dilemmas of a declining youth population is you haven’t got enough people to fill the jobs.
“You’ve got to look after all these old people like myself – we’re going to be very expensive.”
In fact it is the need to fund “very expensive” old people which has driven migration policy in other European countries. Professor Buchanan said:
“In Germany where they have a relatively good welfare state, the fertility rate is 1.4, so no wonder Angela Merkel is welcoming the migrants.”