New Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that mothers born outside the UK accounted for 28.2 per cent of live births in England and Wales in 2016.
Of the 696,271 live births in England and Wales recorded for the year, almost 200,000 were to mothers who were themselves born outside the United Kingdom – the highest proportion on record.
Unlike some other European statistical authorities, the ONS does not reveal how many births can be attributed to UK-born mothers who come from a migration background, or to UK-born mothers bearing children for foreign-born fathers, in its figures.
Birth rates in migrant communities tend to be above the national average. Considered alongside annual gross immigration approaching and sometimes exceeding 600,000, this suggests that the United Kingdom will undergo a major demographic shift as older generations begin to pass away and be replaced with migrant and migrant-descended families.
The ONS notes that the percentage of live births in England and Wales to mothers born outside the UK “has increased every year since 1990,” when it was a comparatively modest 11.6 per cent.
Figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland are collected separately – although estimates for Scotland, in particular, suggest it will take on nine migrants for every new birth over the next decade, with two-third of the new arrivals coming from outside the United Kingdom.
All told, the UK population has now reached a record a 65,648,000, driven largely by immigration.
Many establishment commentators have suggested that it absolutely vital that the United Kingdom welcome migrants in large numbers and celebrate high birth rates among migrant communities in order to stave off a demographic disaster.
Others have challenged the idea that an ever-increasing population is preferable to a gently declining population in works such as Phil Mullan’s The Imaginary Time Bomb: Why an Ageing Population is Not a Social Problem.
The idea that mass immigration is a viable means of maintaining the so-called “dependency ratio” of people of working age to pensioners at 4:1 has also been challenged.
Home Office experts noted in the International Migration and the United Kingdom: Patterns and Trends report that “The impact of immigration in mitigating population ageing is widely acknowledged to be small because immigrants also age.”
The United Nations Population Division has further noted that, in order to maintain such a ratio to 2050 through immigration, the UK would have to import some 59,722,000 people, increasing the total population to 136 million.