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There were 12,642 births and 15,306 deaths registered in Scotland between 1 January and 31 March 2019, according to provisional figures released by National Records of Scotland. Compared to the quarter one average for the previous five years, births have fallen by 4.9 per cent and deaths have fallen by 3.7 per cent.
The publication, ‘Births, deaths and other vital events, first quarter 2019’, shows that at 12,642, the number of births registered in the first quarter was 0.4 per cent lower than in the same period of 2018. This is the second lowest quarter one births total since civil registration began in 1855, with only 2002 having a lower figure. Expressed as a rate, there were 9.4 births per 1,000 population.
The total number of quarter one births fell to a previous low of 12,374 in 2002. It then rose to 15,106 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. Additionally, the economic uncertainty influencing decisions around childbearing, particularly given that the beginning of the recent fall coincided with the financial crash a decade ago, could play a part.
At 15,306 the number of deaths registered was 2,465 (13.9 per cent) lower than in the same period last year but 2018 quarter one had a very high number of deaths so this decrease was expected. The 2019 quarter one deaths figure is 9.6 per cent higher than the 2014 quarter one figure, which was the lowest quarter one deaths figure recorded. Expressed as a rate, there were 11.4 deaths per 1,000 population.
Compared with the first quarter of 2018:
- the number of cancer deaths fell by 5.2 per cent to 3,996
- the number of deaths from coronary heart disease fell by 10.5 per cent to 1,740
- the number of deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease fell by 24.2 per cent to 1,678
- deaths from respiratory diseases fell by 30.8 per cent to 1,985
- there were 962 deaths from cerebrovascular disease (a decrease of 21.1 per cent)
The provisional figures also show there were 3.198 marriages in total, 264 less than during the first quarter of 2018 (a fall of 7.6 per cent). There were 130 same-sex marriages, the same number as in 2018 quarter one. Of the same sex marriages registered in the first quarter, 11 (8.5 per cent) were changes from civil partnerships. There were 14 civil partnerships (nine male and five female), the same number as in the first quarter of 2018.
Paul Lowe, the Registrar General for Scotland, said:
“In line with recent trends, the number of births in Scotland continues to fall, with the number registered in the first quarter of 2019 second lowest since civil registration began in 1855 with only quarter one of 2002 having a lower number.
“Quarter one usually has the highest number of deaths each year as it rises in winter. After the very high number of deaths recorded in quarter one of 2018, it is not surprising that the 2019 quarter one deaths represent a large decrease compared with that figure.”