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Birth predictions over coming years

Introduction

Reading continues to have a higher birth rate than national and regional averages, and is therefore likely to have a greater need for maternity and early years services than elsewhere in the short term, and greater demand for infrastructure development and universal services in future. In the ten years preceding the last census, Reading has become increasingly ethnically diverse and some neighbourhoods have become increasingly deprived.

What do we know?

Having an understanding of the predicted future birth rates, and potential changes to the population levels, can support the planning and commissioning of future services for local people.

The General Fertility Rate (GFR) is the number of live births per 1,000 women aged 15-44. Rates are based on the most up-to-date population estimates. The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is the average number of live children that would be born to each woman in a population based on the fertility rate of women in her age group in that calendar year throughout her childbearing lifespan (London Data Store, 2015).

The TFR is calculated using the number of live births and mid-year population estimates (sub-nationally) and the population projections (nationally) for women by single year of age. This generally produces a more accurate picture of the number of births to those most likely to give birth. However, population estimates at local authority level are relatively small, meaning that rates generated using single year of age can risk producing spurious results. 

Facts, Figures, Trends

The latest data release from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) was in 2016 and show information for the year 2015. The data show that in England and Wales, the average age of mothers in 2015 was 30.2 years (ONS, 2016). On the whole, general fertility rates in England and Wales have remained similar in recent years. In 2008, the GFR was 62.7 live births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in England and Wales. The rate rose to 64.9 in 2012 but has since reduced to 62.5 by 2015.

Table 1 below shows that there were 66.8 live births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 living in Reading in 2015. This gives Reading a general fertility rate that is much higher than the national average. The GFR for Reading has been consistently higher than the national and regional averages.

Table 1: General Fertility Rates England & Wales (E&W) and Reading

 

Year

 

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

E&W

62.7

62.5

64.0

64.0

64.8

62.2

62.1

62.5

 

 

Reading

71.9

67.2

69.7

67.8

72.1

68.6

67.0

66.8

 

 

Source for 2015: Office for National Statistics (2016); Birth by mother's usual area of residence in the UK

The number of babies born to families living in Reading in 2015 was 2,521 (ONS, 2016), a small reduction of 33 from 2,554 in 2014 (ONS, 2015). 

Figure 1. General Fertility Rates for England & Wales (E&W), South East (SE) and Reading (Live births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44)

Figure 1
Figure 1

Source:  Office for National Statistics (2016); Birth Summary Tables, England and Wales 2015

The table and chart below both show that TFRs in Reading and elsewhere have reduced since 2008, with fewer children born on average to each woman in 2015 than in 2008. The reduction has been steeper in Reading than elsewhere.

Table 2: Total Fertility Rates for England & Wales (E&W), South East (SE) and Reading

 

Year

 

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

E&W

1.92

1.90

1.94

1.93

1.94

1.85

1.83

1.82

 

 

SE

1.96

1.97

2.01

1.96

1.97

1.86

1.86

1.86

 

 

Reading

2.08

2.01

2.07

1.89

1.98

1.89

1.87

1.86

 

 

Source: Office for National Statistics

Figure 2 shows a wide gap in TFR in 2008 between Reading, the South East and England & Wales. The gap has been steadily reducing and in 2015 the rates are much closer together - especially between Reading and the rest of the South East. As mentioned above, these rates are based on very small population numbers and are therefore considered volatile (which may explain the unusual results in 2011). Nonetheless, there is a prevailing trend towards a reduction in the number of children born to each woman that is reflected in both the national and local rates. 

Figure 2. Total Fertility Rates for England & Wales (E&W), South East (SE) and Reading (average number of children born to each woman in her lifetime)

Figure 2
Figure 2

Source: Office for National Statistics (2016); Birth Summary Tables, England and Wales 2015

Sub-national population projections using components of change (births, deaths and migration) suggest that the number of births will reduce to around 2317 by 2025. A reduction in fertility rate could impact on the age profile of Reading's population. Figure 3 below shows Reading's the population in 5 year age groups compared to the national average. Currently the percentage of the population aged under 9 years is larger in Reading than elsewhere, should fertility rates fall in line with national averages, this percentage may also reduce. Alongside international migration, the number of births in Reading is a driver of local population change.

Figure 3. Population pyramid comparing Reading percentages to England averages.

Figure 3
Figure 3

Source: Office for National Statistics

Table3: England & Wales Age-specific fertility rates, 2005 to 2015 live births per 1,000 women in age group

Year

Age of mother at birth

 

All

Under

20 to 24

25 to 29

30 to 34

35 to 39

40 and

ages

20

 

 

 

 

over

2015

62.3

14.5

58.0

100.8

111.0

66.0

15.2

2014

62.1

15.6

60.1

100.8

110.4

64.5

14.7

2013

62.2

17.4

63.7

101.5

109.4

62.9

14.5

2012

64.8

19.9

69.9

105.1

113.9

63.7

14.6

2011

64.0

21.2

71.6

104.3

111.9

62.1

14.2

2010

64.0

23.4

74.1

104.1

112.3

60.3

13.4

2009

62.5

24.8

73.9

102.4

108.7

58.1

12.9

2008

62.7

25.7

74.1

103.0

109.8

57.8

12.6

2007

61.2

25.9

72.6

100.1

107.8

56.5

12.0

2006

59.6

26.6

72.1

97.9

103.4

53.6

11.4

2005

57.9

26.4

70.5

96.0

99.9

50.3

10.8

Source: Office for National Statistics 2016 Birth Summary Tables, England and Wales 
https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/livebirths/datasets/birthsummarytables 

Table 3 above shows a national picture of births by age groups over the last ten years. Throughout, the majority of births are to mothers aged 25-34. The fertility rate in mothers aged under 20 has reduced from 26.4 in 2005 to 15.6 in 2014 while the fertility rate amongst those aged over 35 has increased. This may reflect more women continuing with work and study for longer before starting a family or births as part of new relationships later in life. 

Figure 4 shows the number and rate of births in each ward in the Reading area in 2015. The highest number of births were to residents of Battle ward (251 births - around 10% of all births in the borough), and the lowest to residents of Mapledurham ward (24 births - less than 1% of births). The highest rate of births were to residents of Kentwood ward (89.4 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44), with the lowest to residents of Church ward (43.8 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44). Although these rates are based on small population numbers, monitoring trends in where in the borough fertility rates are highest may help to understand where needs for infrastructure and demand for universal services such as schools and primary health care, are likely to grow the most. It can also help to indicate where the largest number are likely to be born into disadvantage and deprivation, and are therefore most likely to benefit from support. 

Figure 4: Number and rate of births by ward in Reading local authority - 2015

Figure 4
Figure 4

Source: Office for National Statistics (2016); Annual births data and Ward level Mid-year population estimates.

National & Local Strategies (Current best practices)

Reading Borough Council's Corporate Plan for 2016-19 cites 'providing the best start in life through education, early help and healthy living' and 'providing the infrastructure to support the economy' as key priorities for the locality. Initiatives have included included expanding school places, delivering additional and affordable homes and improving roads and public transport. 

What is this telling us?

Reading continues to have a higher birth rate than national and regional averages, and is therefore likely to have a greater need for maternity and early years services than elsewhere in the short term, and greater demand for infrastructure development and universal services in future.

What are the key inequalities?

Reading is currently ranked 146th of the most deprived 326 Local Authorities, with two neighbourhoods in the 10% most deprived areas in the country and over 6,000 children estimated to be living in poverty. Those born into disadvantage are less likely to live healthy lives and more likely to die prematurely. 

What are the unmet needs / service gaps?

In the immediate and short term, high rates of fertility will continue to lead to high demand for maternity and infant care and healthcare related to fertile years for women. Population change in Reading is partly driven by natural change (the number of births and deaths) and partly by international migration to the area. Patterns of migration into the UK suggest that roughly half of the increase in population is likely to be accountable to females and most are aged between 25 and 44. It may therefore be anticipated that young working age adults moving to Reading for work and study may decide to to start their families in the town. In the ten years preceding the last census Reading has become increasingly ethnically diverse with the proportion of the population identifying themselves as White British falling from 86.8% in 2001 to 66.9% in 2011.

This section links to the following sections in the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA):

Infant Mortality

Mental health

Obesity - adult & child

Sexual Health

Population Change

General Wellbeing

References

London Data Store (2015), Births and fertility rates. Available at: http://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/births-and-fertility-rates-borough 

Public Health Outcomes Framework (2015), 2.04 - Under 18 conceptions. Available at: Public Health Outcomes Framework

Office of National Statistics (2016), Birth Summary Tables, England and Wales, 2014. Available at: Birth Summary Tables, England and Wales - Office for National Statistics

 

 

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