Fertility rate drops in Wales as number of babies being born at record low

220720 Newborn baby in hospital PA IMages
Fertility rates for women under 30 have fallen to the lowest level since records began. Credit: PA Images

Fertility rates in Wales are at their lowest level since records began, research reveals.

Figures by the Office for National Statistics show how less women under the age of 30 are having babies. In Wales, the fertility rate, which means the average number of children a woman gives birth to, is at 1.54 children per woman. The lowest level since 1982.

  • Why are fertility rates falling?

Possible reasons for the decrease in fertility rates could be better access to contraception; a fall in mortality rates of children aged under five, resulting in women having fewer babies; and lower levels of fertility or difficulties conceiving because people are delaying having children until later in life.

The total fertility rate for Wales and England fell from 1.7 children per woman in 2018 to 1.65 children per woman in 2019. Those aged 40 and over were the only age group to see an increase in the fertility rate, with a rise to 16.5 births per 1,000 women.

The rates were measured in six age groups, from under 20 up to 40 and over.

In 2019, the mean age of a mother at childbirth was 30.7 years, a figure which has been rising since 1973 when it was 26.4 years.

The average age of women giving birth is also increasing. Credit: PA Images

Clare Murphy, from the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), said: "In many ways these figures tell a story of success.

"The increasing age of motherhood is a reflection of improved gender parity, especially greater female participation in both higher education and the workplace."

But she said financial factors also "weigh heavily on family planning decisions".

She added: "The job market has never been more precarious, and we know the current crisis has hit women's employment particularly hard.

"As a result, we may well see these trends continue into the future as women and couples choose to delay having children until they are financially stable."