Birth and death rates

National Records of Scotland statistics.

Births continue to fall in 2019 quarter two

There were 12,253 births and 13,652 deaths registered in Scotland between 1 April and 30 June 2019, according to provisional figures released today by National Records of Scotland. Compared to the quarter two average for the previous five years, births have fallen by 9.3 per cent and deaths have risen by 0.9 per cent.

The publication, ‘Births, deaths and other vital events, second quarter 2019’, shows that at 12,253, the number of births registered in the second quarter was 5.4 per cent lower than in the same period of 2018. This is the lowest number of quarter two births since civil registration began in 1855. Expressed as a rate, there were 9.0 births per 1,000 population, compared with 9.6 in the same quarter a year earlier and 11.4 a decade ago.

The total number of quarter two births fell to a previous low of 12,625 in 2002. It then rose to 14,875 in 2008 before falling in more recent years. There is no single reason for the fall in the number of births, but possible causes may include the postponement of childbearing until older ages, often meaning that women will have fewer children; and economic uncertainty influencing decisions around childbearing, particularly given that the beginning of the recent fall coincided with the financial crash a decade ago.

At 13,652 the number of deaths registered was 0.2 per cent higher than in the same period last year. The 2019 quarter two deaths figure is 6.9 per cent higher than the 2009 quarter two figure (12,770), which was the lowest number of deaths ever recorded in the second quarter. Expressed as a rate, there were 10.1 deaths per 1,000 population.

Compared with the second quarter of 2018:
• The number of cancer deaths rose by 1.3 per cent to 3,974;
• The number of deaths from coronary heart disease fell by 3.1 per cent to 1,548;
• The number of deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease rose by 5.7 per cent to 1,464;
• Deaths from respiratory diseases fell by 1.9 per cent to 1,444;
• There were 887 deaths from cerebrovascular disease (an increase of 3.6 per cent).

The provisional figures also show there were 7,613 marriages in total, 207 less than during the second quarter of 2018 (a fall of 2.6 per cent) and the lowest ever quarter two marriage figure. There were 231 same-sex marriages, 20 fewer than in 2018 quarter two. Of the same sex marriages registered in the second quarter, 15 (6.5 per cent) were changes from civil partnerships. There were 25 civil partnerships (16 male and 9 female), ten more than in the second quarter of 2018.

Paul Lowe, the Registrar General for Scotland, said:

“In line with recent trends, the number of births and marriages in Scotland continues to fall, with the numbers registered in the second quarter of 2019 being the lowest since civil registration began in 1855.

“The number of second quarter deaths was virtually unchanged from last year. However, it represents an increase of 6.9% since 2009, when the number of deaths reached their lowest ever level for quarter two.”


1. National Records of Scotland (NRS) is responsible for producing statistics on Scotland’s population.

2. The full publication, Births, deaths and other vital events – second quarter 2019, includes figures for NHS Boards and local authority areas.

3. Figures are provisional and might be subject to further revision. Figures for 2019 will be finalised when the annual ital events reference tables are published in summer 2020.


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