UK Birth Rate Plunges To Lowest Level In 80 Years As More Women Choose Careers Over Motherhood

Across the developed world, birth rates have fallen to some of their lowest levels since the practice of annual record keeping began. In the US and Japan, according to the Daily Mail, birth rates have fallen to their lowest levels in decades, if not their lowest levels of all time.

For example, official birthrate data delivered in Tokyo marked the latest in a series of alarming milestones:

with 921,000 births last year, Japan has posted the lowest birth rate since the country began keeping track in 1899 - coming in below 1 million for the third year in a row.

In the US, the most disturbing data released so far this year pertained to the general fertility rate, which dropped 2% between 2017 and 2018 among females aged 15 to 44.

Now, the latest disappointing data out of the G-7, the Daily Mail reports that the birth rate in England and Wales tumbled to the lowest level since they started keeping records 80 years ago. That is to say, there were only 11 babies born last year for every 1,000 people in England and Wales.

In total 657,076 children were born – down 3.2% on a year earlier and nearly 10% from 2012 - even as the news of Princess  Megan Markle's pregnancy left the country with a collective sense of baby fever. The UK's total fertility rate 1.70 children per woman.

The Office for National Statistics said falling fertility rates were mainly responsible for the fall, but difficulties conceiving among older couples who chose to delay family formation to focus on their careers or other objectives was one reason for the drop.

It said "women are progressively delaying childbearing to older ages" and are now most likely to have children in their 30s.

This is because women are more likely to delay childbirth to go to school and delay marriage while they pursue their careers.

Meanwhile, some 28.2% of the children born in England and Wales were born to immigrant women, down from 28.4 per cent in 2017.

At least one analyst linked the drop in the UK birth rate - the first drop in 28 years - to Brexit, which would suggest that there could be a massive rebound in live births once the UK has successfully left the EU.

Kathryn Littleboy, of the Office of National Statistics, said: "Our analysis paints a picture of decreases and some record lows."

"The birth rate was the lowest ever recorded, when births are measured as a proportion of the total population."

She added that the number of children an average woman can expect to have in her lifetime has also reached an unprecedented lows since women are now starting the process of family formation later.

"The total fertility rate stood at 1.70 children per woman, lower than all years except 1977 and 1999 to 2002. There were 657,076 live births last year, the fewest since 2005 and a drop of almost ten per cent since 2012," Miss Littleboy said.

Last year’s birthrate compared with 679,106 in 2017 and 729,674 in 2012. And although the drop in fertility rates and live births is hardly unique to the UK - indeed, it's a phenomenon observed across the developing wold - another analyst pointed out that women's increased participation in higher education and their desire to have more high-powered careers was one reason for the drop in fertility rates.