Statistical news release - births, deaths and other vital events

Quarter 3 births at lowest levels since records began.

There were 13,077 births and 12,625 deaths registered in Scotland between 1 July and 30 September 2018, according to provisional figures released today by National Records of Scotland. Compared to the quarter three average for the last five years, births and deaths have both fallen; births by 9 per cent and deaths by 2 per cent.

The publication, ‘Births, deaths and other vital events, third quarter 2018’, shows that  at 13,077, the number of births registered was 5.5 per cent lower than in the same period of 2017. This fall takes the quarter three total to its lowest level since civil registration began in 1855. The total number of quarter three births had fallen to a previous low of around 13,200 in 2001. It then rose to around 15,500 in 2008 before falling again 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.

Expressed as a rate, there were 9.6 births per 1,000 population, compared with the recent high of 11.9 births per 1,000 population for quarter three of 2008.

At 12,625, the number of deaths registered was 4.2 per cent lower than in the same period of 2017. Expressed as a rate, there were 9.2 deaths per 1,000 population.

Compared with the third quarter of 2017:

  • The number of cancer deaths fell by 1.3 per cent to 3,916;
  • The number of deaths from coronary heart disease fell by 11.8 per cent to 1,361;
  • The number of deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease fell by 5.2 per cent to 1,284;
  • Deaths from respiratory diseases fell by 1.6 per cent (by 21 to 1,270);
  • There were 750 deaths from cerebrovascular disease (a decrease of 16.7 per cent).

The provisional figures also show there were 10,118 marriages in total, 752 fewer than during the third quarter of 2017 (a fall of 6.9 per cent). There were 373 same-sex marriages, 4 more (1.1 per cent) than in the same period of 2017. Of the same sex marriages registered in the third quarter, 23 (6.2 per cent) were changes from civil partnerships.

The total number of marriages is the lowest for the third quarter since 1943 (when the total was 9,847) having fallen below the previous low of 10,312 recorded in 2013.

There were 12 civil partnerships (7 male and 5 female), 15 fewer than during the third quarter of 2017.

Anne Slater, the Registrar General for Scotland, said:

“Numbers of both births and deaths were lower than the recent average for this time of year, although the fall in birth numbers is more pronounced.  Continuing the downward trend since 2008, the number of births for the third quarter of 2018 is now the lowest number recorded since civil registration began.”

Notes to Editors

  1. National Records of Scotland (NRS) is responsible for producing statistics on Scotland’s population.
  1. The full publication, Births, deaths and other vital events – third quarter 2018, includes figures for NHS Boards and local authority areas.
  1. Figures are provisional and might be subject to further revision. Figures for 2018 will be finalised when the annual vital events reference tables are published in June next year.



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