Irish birth rate continues to fall amid sustained increase in deaths

Marriages as part of religious ceremonies drop below 60% for first time

The steady decrease in the birth rate has continued from a peak in 2008. Photograph: iStock

The steady decrease in the birth rate has continued from a peak in 2008. Photograph: iStock

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Rates of births, marriages and adoptions continue to fall in Ireland while the death rate increases. Church marriages also continue to drop as civil marriages increase. These are among the facts disclosed in the 2019 annual report of the Civil Registration Service, which is published on Tuesday.

The service registered 60,173 births in 2019, a drop of 1,728 on the 61,901 births registered during 2018, itself a decrease of 2.8 per cent on the 2017 figure. This steady decrease has continued from a peak in 2008, when more than 75,000 births were registered. Births registered in 2019 were a fifth less than in 2008.

In 2019, 20,335 marriages were registered in Ireland, a drop of 3.4 per cent on the 2018 figure and 7.7 per cent lower that the average for 2016-2018.

The proportion of religious marriages registered has dropped below 60 per cent for the first time, accounting for 58.5 per cent of all marriages registered in 2019. Civil marriages accounted for almost a third of all marriages registered last year, with 10 per cent of all marriages registered in 2019 conducted by a secular body, more than double the proportion of such marriages registered in 2014.

Same-sex marriages

Of the marriages registered in 2019, 640 were same-sex – 288 between women and 352 between men. The overall figure was a drop on the 2018 figure of 668 and the 2017 figure of 767. The highest number of same-sex marriages was in 2016, the year after the marriage referendum, when 1,055 same-sex couples married.

Adoptions registered in Ireland during 2019 numbered 79, a decrease of 2.5 per cent on the 81 in 2018. Of the 79 adoptions, eight children were under three and 33 were 17.

Irish death rates continue to increase, with 32,084 registered in 2019. Of these, 52.5 per cent were male and 47.5 per cent female. Numbers dying in Ireland have shown a slight increase every year since 2016. In 2018 the figure was 31,232, in 2017 it was 31,385 and in 2016 it was 32,029.

All births registered before 1919, all marriages registered before 1949 and all deaths registered before 1969 are available on irishgenealogy.ie.

The Civil Registration Service operates under the Department of Social Protection and consists of the General Register Office, based in Roscommon town, and local registration offices at 61 locations operated by the HSE.