Irish birth rate highest in EU, new CSO study reveals


IRISH WOMEN are the most fertile in Europe, according a report published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) yesterday.

On average, women in Ireland are having more babies than women in any other country in the EU, the Vital Statistics annual report for 2009 shows.

The average number of children per woman in 2009 was 2.1, meaning the Irish have the highest fertility rate of the 27 EU member states.

The next highest average was in France (2.0), while the lowest fertility rate in the EU was in Latvia (1.31).

“A value of 2.1 is generally taken to be the level at which a generation would replace itself in the long run, ignoring migration,” the CSO said.

The high birth rate has resulted in the number of children being born in Ireland reaching a 118-year high, with 75,554 children born during 2009; in 1891, 76,877 children were born.

Women between the ages of 30 and 34 had the highest number of babies, with 25,406 born to women of this age group in 2009.

Before 1993, the majority of babies were born to women in the 25- to 29-year age group.

In 1979, mothers under 30 years old accounted for 60.4 per cent of births, but this has dropped steadily to 38.8 per cent in 2009. In Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales just over half of mothers are under 30.

The number of births in 2009 was up by 381 or 0.5 per cent from 2008, and up 21,630 or 40.1 per cent since 1999.

Separately, the average age of grooms in 2009 was 34 years, marginally higher than in 2008.

However, in 1977 the average age of marriage was 26.2 years.

One-third of all births – 25,252 – took place outside of marriage.

The statistics also show there was a 17 per cent increase in the number of civil marriages in 2009 – 6,214 in total.

August was the most popular month for marriage in 2009, with 13 per cent of marriages taking place in that month.

The report also noted a 9 per cent increase in deaths by suicide; in total 552 people died by suicide in 2009. Some 80 per cent of those who died were males.

The majority of deaths by suicide were among men and women aged between 35 and 44.

In relation to all deaths in 2009, which numbered 28,380, the report said cancerous tumours were the leading cause among individuals aged 45 to 74, while for those aged 75 and older, diseases of the circulatory system were the most common cause of death.

Among young adults aged 15 to 44, external causes of injury and poisoning ranked first as a cause of death.