State's birth rate hits 118-year high


More children were born in 2009 than in any year since 1891, new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show.

There were 75,554 births in Ireland - the highest number recorded since 118 years ago when 76,877 children were born.

Figures from the CSO show 2009 was the fourth year in a row of annual birth-rate rises. The number of births rose 0.5 per cent from 2008, up 40.1 per cent (21,630) from 10 years ago.

The CSO Report on Vital Statistics also finds that Ireland had the highest fertility rate of the 27 European Union states in that year: 2.1 children per woman compared with the lowest, Latvia, at 1.31 children per woman.

“The total period fertility rate, or the average number of children per woman, was 2.10 in 2009, the same rate as in 2008,” the CSO said.

“This is the fertility rate that must be maintained to replace the population in the absence of migration.”

Elsewhere, the report finds that women waited until they were older to have children: 25,406 babies were born to women aged 30-34 in 2009, the highest number of all age groups.

Before 1993 the majority of births occurred among women aged 25-29.

Over a third of births in 2009 (25,252) occurred among unmarried women.

Meanwhile, the death rate remained the same in 2009 from 2008: 64 deaths per 1,000 of the total population. A total of 28,380 people died: 14,727 males and 13,653 females.

“The crude death rate per 1,000 of population has shown a gradual downward trend since the beginning of the century, with the most striking long-term falls occurring in the death rates at the younger ages,” the CSO said.

A third (33.5 per cent) of the deaths recorded in 2009 were circulatory related, neoplasms (tumours) accounted for 30% and respiratory diseases accounted for 12.7 per cent of all deaths.

More suicides were recorded in 2009, up 9 per cent on the previous year from 506 to 552, of which 80 per cent were of males.

Irish people waited until they were older to get married, the report shows. The age of the average groom rose by 0.2 years between 2008 and 2009 to 34, while the average age of a bride in 2009 was 31.8, jumping from an average of 24 in 1977.