Baby boom puts Ireland top of EU birth rate table

State records joint lowest death rate in EU alongside Cyprus, figures show

Ireland had the highest birth rate among European Union countries last year, and the joint lowest death rate.

The State’s baby boom saw 63,900 live births recorded during 2016, a rate of 13.5 births for every 1,000 of the population. This birth rate was well ahead of Sweden and the UK (11.8 per 1,000) and France (11.7 per 1,000).

The figures from the EU statistics agency Eurostat estimate that there were 30,400 deaths recorded in the State last year (6.4 per 1,000), the joint lowest along with Cyprus.

The study says Ireland (at 7.1) had the biggest “natural rise” in population in the EU last year, a figure which excludes the rate of migration into and out of countries. Cyprus (4.7) had the second-largest increase.


Bulgaria had the biggest natural decrease in population, with a 15.1 per 1,000 death rate and 9.1 per 1,000 birth rate. The country’s overall change in population saw a drop of six per 1,000.

Lowest birth rate

The country with the lowest birth rate was Italy, with 7.8 children born per 1,000 people. Other southern European countries also recorded low birth rates: Portugal had a rate of 8.4 per 1,000 behind Greece ( 8.6) and Spain (8.7).

In terms of overall increase in population Luxembourg, Malta, Ireland and Lithuania saw the largest rates of population increases in the last year.

Eurostat’s “crude rate of population change” – the rate of increase or decrease – saw Ireland’s rate of population change increase by 10.6 per 1,000, or about 1 per cent.

Luxembourg had the biggest rate of population increase at 19.8, followed by Sweden with 14.5.

Eastern European EU countries saw the largest decline in population. Lithuania saw a population decrease of 14.2 per 1,000, followed by Latvia (-9.6), Croatia (-8.7) and Bulgaria (-7.3).

Germany still has the largest population in the EU, at 82 million people, followed by France (67 million) and the UK (65 million).

The EU overall saw an increase in population from 510.2 million to 511.8 million in the last year. The natural rate of population change declined in the EU overall, with 5.11 million live births and 5.13 million deaths. An increase in immigration contributed to the EU’s overall increase in population.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times