This report uses 2001 and 2011 Census population estimates and annual birth registrations to examine fertility rates for foreign born women within England and Wales. Fertility estimates for women born within the UK are presented for comparison. This report examines the country of birth information for women and does not consider the country of birth of the fathers of their children. Information on fathers’ country of birth is also available from birth registrations, but is not considered in this report for the sake of simplicity and brevity. Fertility rates for women born in around 150 non-UK countries of birth were analysed and the key points and highlights are covered in this report.
This report uses 2001 and 2011 census population estimates and annual birth registrations to examine fertility rates for foreign born women within England and Wales. Fertility estimates for women born within the UK are presented for comparison. The estimates presented in this analysis use the self-reported country of birth of the mother, and the analysis does not attempt to account for differences in the length of time mothers have been resident in the UK or their age on arrival. Some people born abroad have British nationality; previous 2011 Census analysis has shown that 46% of the total non-UK born population (i.e. all ages and both sexes) living in England and Wales are British nationals 1. For example, this may be the case for people whose parents were in the military services and were based abroad when they were born, or those who have acquired citizenship through naturalisation.
When reading this report it is important to understand the difference between a high fertility rate (that is the average woman in a population having more children) and a large number of births (that is the population as a whole having more births). A high fertility rate does not lead to a large number of births if the population experiencing it is small.
This report examines the country of birth information for women and does not consider the country of birth of the fathers of their children. Information on fathers’ country of birth is also available from birth registrations, but is not considered in this report for the sake of simplicity and brevity.
The total fertility rates (TFRs) of non-UK born women in England and Wales were the same in 2001 and 2011 (2.21 in both years), while the TFR of UK-born women increased by 18% (from 1.56 in 2001 to 1.84 in 2011).
Women living in England and Wales born in Africa had a TFR of 2.76 in 2011, the highest TFR of women living in England and Wales born in any world region. Women born in Oceania2 had the lowest TFR of 1.38.
Women born in Poland living in England and Wales were the non-UK born group having the most births overall in 2011 (20,500). However their TFR in 2011 of 2.13 was below the non-UK born average.
Of the top 10 most common non-UK countries of birth for women giving birth in 2011, three (Germany, South Africa and China) had a lower TFR than UK born women.
Women born in Romania and the Czech Republic living in England and Wales had the highest TFRs of any EU country of birth (2.93 and 2.77 respectively), though in 2011 these countries of birth accounted for only a relatively small number of births (3,500 and 1,600 respectively). Women born in Greece and Italy had the lowest TFRs of any EU country of birth (1.20 and 1.11 respectively).
Some non-UK born populations had a higher fertility rate in England and Wales than in their origin countries, while others had lower. This does not follow a clear geographical pattern.
The TFR gives a good indication of the current intensity of childbearing among women born in different countries, but is not necessarily a good predictor of completed family size.
The total fertility rate or TFR is an internationally used hypothetical measure of how many children a woman would be expected to have if she experienced current rates of childbearing throughout her reproductive years1. The rate is sensitive to changes in childbearing patterns over time, so is not necessarily a good predictor of completed family size, but gives a good indication of the current intensity of childbearing.
Regular annual publications from ONS looking at country of birth of mothers have mainly been concerned with the number of births to different groups 2. Production of fertility rates requires the use of birth registration data combined with population data. In non-Census years the population data used is taken from the APS (Annual Population Survey) and due to sample size issues, the ONS is only able to produce fertility rates which do not control for the age structure of the population (GFR or general fertility rates). A report looking at these was published in October 2012 3.
Using census data, allows us to look at detailed fertility rates of different populations. Using the TFR allows us to control for the size and age structure of the population so that differences between groups are due solely to fertility levels.
It is important to note that these fertility estimates are based on the mother’s country of birth, rather than her ethnicity or nationality, as ethnicity and nationality are not available on birth registrations. This means that the figures presented relate to births to women born abroad, rather than to foreign nationals 4 or women from any specific ethnic community.
There are a number of factors that could influence fertility levels between different migrant groups:
Age at migration – Women who migrated at a younger age will have had a longer time to adapt to British culture and thus might be more likely to have similar fertility to the UK born than those migrating at older ages 5.
Reason for migration - Women migrating for some reasons (for example study) may be less likely to choose to have children soon after migrating than those migrating for other reasons (for example accompanying or joining family).
Intended length of stay – Women intending to stay in England and Wales for less time may be less likely to choose to have children here.
Length of time since migration – The longer the elapsed time between migration and giving birth, the less impact the migration itself is likely to have had on fertility. This could explain why the TFR for more recent migrant groups (for example those from Poland) is higher than in more established migrant groups (for example those from Spain). Women born in Poland have mostly migrated in recent years and so any postponement of fertility before migrating and ‘catch up’ after migration will be more evident in this population than in populations which have built up more gradually in England and Wales.
Cultural norms around family size – some groups have a strong cultural preference for small or large family sizes, and this affects the number of children they choose to have. This can vary between different groups when combined with migration, as some groups choose to follow their cultural norms, whereas other groups will adapt to UK born patterns to a greater extent.
Conditions in England and Wales compared to the country of origin – for example if the support (financial, social, educational) for childbearing and family life is better or worse in England and Wales than in the population’s country of origin, this may have an effect on the number of children they choose to have.
Different economic conditions may exist in the origin and destination countries which may have an impact on fertility, for example unemployment levels.
All of these factors are likely to play a part in the differences in fertility that can be seen between the UK born and the different non-UK born populations living in England and Wales that are examined in this short story.
Table 1 shows that since 2001 the TFR for all women living in England and Wales increased from an average of 1.64 children per woman, to an average of 1.93 children per woman. The rise in overall fertility is due to a combination of increasing fertility rates amongst native-born women and higher numbers of foreign-born women with higher average fertility rates coming to the UK. The TFR for UK born women increased substantially, from 1.56 in 2001 to 1.84 in 2011, but the TFR for non-UK born women remained unchanged at 2.21 in 2011 (the same as in 2001).
|2001 Census TFR||2011 Census TFR|
|UK born Women||1.56||1.84|
|Non-UK born Women||2.21||2.21|
This means that the gap in TFR between UK and non-UK born women living in England and Wales narrowed by around a third between 2001 and 2011, due to the increase in the UK born TFR. It is important to note that the UK born population will include second and later generation migrants (i.e. the children and grandchildren of non-UK born migrants).
Table 2 provides the TFRs for women in England and Wales, based on their world region of birth. This shows that women born in Africa had the highest TFR in England and Wales in 2011, whereas in 2001 women from the Middle East had the highest TFR as a group.
In both 2001 and 2011 women born in Oceania had the lowest TFR (though this group is the smallest of all world regions, in terms of England and Wales population), and those born in the EU15 (excluding UK) had the second lowest. EU15 was also the group showing the least change between 2001 and 2011.
|Region of Origin||2001 TFR||Proportion of all births in England and Wales (2001)||2011 TFR||Proportion of all births in England and Wales (2011)|
|The Americas and Carribbean||2.10||1.45%||1.84||1.55%|
|Total non-UK born||2.21||16.39%||2.21||25.50%|
The proportion of births in England and Wales to non-UK born women increased from 16% in 2001 to 26% in 2011. This has been accompanied by a change in the composition of the non-UK born population. Figure 1 aids the interpretation of table 2; it shows the number of births to women from different world regions in England and Wales in 2001 and 2011.
It is clear that in 2001 there were relatively few births to women from the A121 (Accession countries); these births resulted from a TFR of 1.97, being experienced by a small number of women. In 2011 the TFR of this group had increased to 2.19 (table 2). However, the number of births was 11 times higher in 2011 than in 2001 due to a large increase in population, resulting from a large increase in migration from these countries since accession in 2004.
All regions of mothers’ birth saw increases in the numbers of births between 2001 and 2011, but none with such large proportional growth as A12, reflecting the substantial changes in overall population numbers over the decade, following the recent Accessions to the European Union. The next largest proportional increase was for mothers born in the Middle East, for whom the number of births roughly doubled, despite a decrease in TFR.
The TFR for women born in non-EU Europe declined between 2001 and 2011 despite the number of births to this group increasing. This is due to an increase in the population of women born in these countries living in England and Wales.
Detailed examination of the size of non-UK born populations is beyond the scope of this story, but does illustrate that care must be taken to understand the difference between a higher TFR (that is the average woman in a population having more children) and a larger number of births (that is the population as a whole having more births, due to an increase in population size). A high TFR does not necessarily mean a large number of births if the population is small.
This section examines the differences in fertility between populations living in England and Wales who were born in specific countries within world regions. Figure 2 shows the highest and lowest TFRs for women born in each region living in England and Wales; the average TFR for all women living in England and Wales born in the whole region is also stated for reference 1.
This figure clearly shows substantial variation in fertility within regions of birth, barring Oceania 2. The largest variation occurred for women born in Africa; the lowest TFRs were 1.71 and 1.79 for women born in Botswana and South Africa, and the highest TFRs were around 5.58 and 4.32 for women born in Libya and Algeria respectively.
Women born in Asia also showed wide variation, from the lowest TFRs of all countries of birth examined (women born in South Korea and Singapore had TFRs of around 1.10) to some of the highest TFRs (women born in Pakistan and Afghanistan had TFRs of 3.82 and 4.25 respectively). As figure 1 shows, Asia was the world region of birth that accounts for the most non-UK born mothers, with roughly a third of all births to non-UK born mothers living in England and Wales being to women born in Asia.
The differences within the EU are examined in more detail later but it is clear to see that women born in the EU15 had lower TFRs on average and less variation in fertility than women born in the A12 countries.
Overall the number of births occurring in England and Wales to women born outside the UK has nearly doubled (89.6% increase) between 2001 and 2011, from around 98,000 in 2001, to around 185,000 in 2011. The number of births to women born in the UK increased by around 8.6% in the same time period, to 539,000 in 2011. Figure 1 gave an indication of the contribution of women born in each world region to this increase in births to women born outside the UK, but the data can be examined in more detail to give a greater understanding.
Table 3 shows the 10 most common non-UK countries of birth for women giving birth in England and Wales in 2011 and also their TFR in 2011. As mentioned earlier the number of births is a product of both the TFR and the size of the population. This is shown by the fact that Poland was the most common non-UK country of birth for mothers, despite Polish born women having the 4th lowest TFR in the top 10. It is clear that within the top 10, there was significant variation in TFR levels, with some countries of birth far above the UK born level of 1.84 (for example Somalia and Pakistan) and others below it (for example Germany 1 and China).
|Top 10 non-UK countries of mother’s birth||Number of births||TFR||Proportion of all births in England and Wales|
Figure 3 shows the TFR of women born in these countries in 2001 and 2011 in England and Wales. There are some key points that can be drawn from this chart:
Although the overall non-UK born TFR was similar in 2001 and 2011, fertility was lower in 2011 for women born in half of the countries (Poland, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia and Lithuania).
Conversely women born in India, Nigeria, Germany, South Africa and China had small increases in their TFR between 2001 and 2011.
Despite the fact that the overall non-UK born TFR is higher than the UK born TFR in both 2001 and 2011 (see Table 1), three of the top 10 most common maternal countries of birth (China, Germany and South Africa) had lower TFRs than women born in the UK in 2011.
The TFRs for women from some countries of birth in the top 10 were much higher than for UK born women, in particular for women born in Somalia and Pakistan, although the TFR for both countries of birth dropped between 2001 and 2011.
As well as being used to compare the fertility of different groups of women living in England and Wales, the TFR can also be used to compare the fertility of overseas born women living in England and Wales with the fertility of their origin country. Figure 4 shows the TFRs of the previously examined top 10 non-UK mothers’ countries of birth in England and Wales, compared with the TFRs of women living in their origin countries 1. This can provide some insight into the effect of migration on fertility.
As noted in the introduction, timing of migration can have an effect on the TFR of non-UK born populations living in England and Wales. It is clear from Figure 4 that there were substantial differences between the TFR of women living in some countries and the TFR of women born in those countries living in England and Wales; some have higher fertility in England and Wales, such as women born in Pakistan, while others have lower fertility in England and Wales, such as women born in Somalia.
There are a variety of explanations for these differences. Fertility in these populations may be affected by timing effects related to migration. Academic theory predicts that the timing of migration and timing of fertility are highly correlated (Toulemon, 2004, 2006 2 Wilson, 2013 3). Women may delay their childbearing if they intend to migrate, and this will then create a catch up effect after migration has occurred which could create a temporary increase in the TFR. Conversely, if women migrate from a high fertility country, we might expect their TFR in England and Wales to be lower, as they integrate with British culture and fertility patterns.
Although their TFRs are high, women born in Somalia and Nigeria had much lower TFRs in England and Wales than in their native countries. This could suggest some degree of integration of women born in these countries, with those living in England and Wales having TFRs closer to the level of UK born women.
Another difference that emerged was that between the TFR in Poland and for Polish women in England and Wales, and that between the TFR in Lithuania and Lithuanian born women in England and Wales. The TFRs in Poland and Lithuania were very low, as in much of Southern and Eastern Europe, but the TFR of women born in these countries living in England and Wales was relatively high, above the TFR of UK born women. This suggests that either the act of migration is altering the fertility patterns of Polish and Lithuanian born women, the women who migrated to England and Wales are not typical of Polish/Lithuanian women in general, or that conditions were better in England and Wales for childbearing than in Poland or Lithuania. The reality is likely to be a combination of a wide variety of factors.
The same pattern also occurs more weakly for women born in Pakistan and Bangladesh, who have higher TFRs in England and Wales than in their origin countries. This is likely to be for similar reasons as above. In this group and other groups any convergence with British fertility is more likely to happen in subsequent generations born in the UK rather than among the most recent migrants. This means that more established groups may be more likely to normalise changes in culture as they integrate into England and Wales.
Toulemon, L. (2004). Fertility among immigrant women: new data, a new approach. Population & Societies 400. Toulemon, L. (2006). Fertility Among Immigrant Women in France: New Data, a New Approach (Prepared for Population Association of American 2006 Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, California, March 30-April 1, 2006).
Women from the EU have free movement between EU member states and can more easily come to live in the UK than those from non-EU countries. Nonetheless, TFRs for women born in other EU member states vary considerably, as do the differences between those women’s TFRs and the equivalent measure in their country of origin. Table 4 shows the TFR in England and Wales for women born in individual EU countries, alongside the TFR in their countries of origin.
Compared with UK born women (who had a TFR of 1.84), women from six of the EU countries had higher TFRs in England and Wales, and the remaining 20 had lower TFRs. The highest TFRs appeared to be for women born in eastern European countries such as Romania or the Czech Republic, while the lowest are for women born in southern European countries such as Italy and Greece.
Poland was the most common country of birth (excluding the UK) for women giving birth in England and Wales in 2011 with 20,500 births. This results from a TFR of 2.13, combined with a large population of women of childbearing age. This can be compared with the Romanian born group of women, who had the highest TFR of any EU country (TFR of 2.93), but only accounted for 3,500 births due to a small childbearing age population.
As the previous section showed, substantial differences can exist between the TFRs of women living in England and Wales, and the TFRs of women living in their countries of origin. On average the TFR of women born in EU countries (excluding the UK) was 0.34 children per woman higher for those living in England and Wales compared to those living in their origin countries. Women born in Romania and the Czech Republic living in England and Wales had the largest difference in TFR when compared to women living in their country of origin. Women born in some EU countries (e.g. France, Ireland and Finland) had lower TFRs in England and Wales than in their country of origin.
|Mother's country of birth||TFR of women born in EU countries, living in E&W (2011)||TFR of all women in origin country (2011)1,2||Number of births in E&W in 2011|
Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: email@example.com
These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.