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Britain’s population in 2008, which gained roughly 408,000 more people than the previous year, rose to 61.4 million—the highest in nearly half a century.
Last year, an estimated 791,000 babies were born in Britain and Northern Ireland had the highest fertility rates in the United Kingdom, with 2.11 births per woman.
Yet in 2001, only 595,000 babies were born in the UK.
A spokeswoman for the Family Planning Association told the BBC that the falling birth rate was partly a reflection of the failure to provide women with adequate support. “Many organizations fail to implement child-friendly policies.”
Of the 791,000 births in 2008, 50 percent were born from immigrant mothers, most of who came from Pakistan, Poland, India, Bangladesh, China and parts of Africa. The Office of National Statistics showed that Pakistani mothers in 2006 had birth rates three times higher than did native-born UK mothers. In 2005, Polish mothers had only 3,403 babies, but had 16,101 last year.
As well, government financial assistance—family and child tax credits, child benefits and up to 39 weeks of paid maternity leave—went up by 52 percent in 2003.
In another BBC article, “Dr. Vaughan Robinson, head of the Migration Unit at Swansea University, said: ‘Britain’s ethnic minorities provide us with an opportunity rather than a problem.’ Unless levels of immigration were increased by around 20 percent, the UK population would fall by three million by 2050.”
Last year, the fertility rate in the UK rose to 12.6 per 1,000 women. Individually, native-born UK women had 1.83 births, while immigrant women had 2.51 children.
“Over the past 40 years ethnic minorities have established themselves as part of the fabric of British life,” Leon Isaacs of Moneygram said. “We should not underestimate the vital role they can play in the helping to maintain the social infrastructure of the country in the 21st century” (ibid.).
Last year also saw 4.8 percent infant deaths per 1,000—the lowest rate yet. In 1951, infant mortality rate was 30 per 1,000.
Other segments of Europe are experiencing similar population trends. Immigrants are boosting Italy’s population, and contributed to growing France’s by 9.8 million people in 2005 (BusinessWeek).
“Germany, the EU’s largest nation, is showing the most dramatic changes. In the past decade, every measure of population growth has fallen. The fertility rate first fell, and has now stagnated at 1.37 children per woman.
“In the same period, indigenous births have fallen into negative territory against deaths and continue to plummet.
“As immigration has all but ceased, the 82 million German population has begun to shrink at about 1,600 people per year” (The Times, London).
Statistics from Eurostat estimated that Europe’s population will reach 521 million people in 2035, and then decrease.