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Scotland registers lowest number of births in second quarter of 2021, with increased registered deaths

The National Records of Scotland have released the statistics for the first two quarters of 2021, revealing an increase in registered deaths, and a decrease in registered births, with one quarter registering its lowest number of births since civil registration began.

The first quarter of 2021 saw a total of 11,509 births registered, which is 8.5% lower than the average registered births in this quarter over the past five years, whereas, 17,371 deaths were registered during the this quarter, which is 8.2% higher than the average over the last five years.

13% fewer births were registered in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the average birth rates over 2015-2019, with a total of 11,441 registered births. At a rate of 8.4 births per 1,000 population, this is the lowest number of registered births in the second quarter since civil registration began. The records from 2020 were not used in the calculation of the average birth rates due to the closure of registration offices during the COVID-19 pandemic, severely affecting the recorded birth rates during each quarter.

The second quarter also saw 13,771 deaths, which is broadly in line with the average registered deaths over the last five years, with an increase of 0.6%.

Over the last four recorded quarters, the third quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2021, the total of births registered were 57,590, with 61,074 registered deaths. Therefore, there were 3,484 more deaths than births.

A similar trend was reflected in the overall rates from 2020 where 46,802 births were registered, whereas 64,085 deaths were registered, meaning 2020 saw a shortfall of 17,283 births compared to deaths. Although this shortfall is considered to be high due to the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the registration of births during each quarter of 2020, it is expected that this is had a small impact on the overall births registered in 2020.

According to the National Records of Scotland, having less births than deaths amongst the population is knowns as “negative natural change” which has been happening in Scotland since 2015. Without external factors such as migration, negative natural change will lead to a fall in population. However, Scotland has experienced a fluctuation of periods of both positive, more births than deaths, and negative natural change over the past 40 years.  

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