Booming births lift population

THE BRITISH population is surging upward, with the largest number of UK births for 40 years registered between 2011 and 2012.

The UK’s birth rate is steaming ahead of similar-sized European countries, like Germany and France, while London is by far the fastest growing area in the country.

There were 813,200 births across the UK between mid-2011 and mid-2012, the largest number recorded since 1972, according to newly published figures from the Office for National Statistics. After the number of deaths and the effect of migration, the population rose 419,000, up to a new high of 63.7m.

London’s population is rising six times as quickly as the north east of England’s, and nearly twice as fast as the average rate in the rest of the country. The number of people in the capital grew by 104,000, increasing 1.27 per cent between the end of June 2011 and the end of June 2012.

The UK is also growing faster than all but five European states, and has outstripped the EU’s other large, comparable countries.

Though immigration has been the largest contributor to the population in recent years, an increase in births combined with a fall in net migration has reversed the trend.

Up until mid-2007, net migration was making up the largest share of population growth. But in the year to June 2012, net migration made up only 39 per cent of the increase, while new births, minus the 558,00 deaths in the same period, accounted for a whopping 61 per cent. There are now over half a million more children aged six or under than there were in the middle of 2001.

Despite the big growth seen in the UK, other European countries face challenges. Germany’s population increased by only 0.2 per cent in the same period, a long-term problem for the engine of the European economy.

Raoul Ruparel, of think tank Open Europe, said: “Germany faces a shrinking and ageing population over the next few decades. The negative impact this has on economic growth may yet give it pause as it faces up to reality”.