previous | contents | next

High Level Summary of Statistics: Population and Migration


Births in Scotland
Last updated: November 2017

The number of births registered in Scotland in 2016 was 54,488: 610 (1.1%) fewer than in 2015. This is lowest annual total since 2005. In the last decade there was a peak of 60,041 births in 2008 followed by a mainly downward trend to the 2016 level. The total in 2016 was 5,553 (9.2%) lower than the 2008 peak, and it was well below the peak of over 100,000 per year in the early 1960s, and the level of around 65,000 to 70,000 per year between the mid-1970s and the early 1990s.

The proportion of births to unmarried parents (including births registered solely in the mother's name) was 50.9% in 2016 compared to 47.7% 10 years earlier and 36.0% in 1996. However, the proportion of births registered solely in the mother’s name – generally around 6 to 7% in the 1980s and 1990s – has fallen in more recent years to 4.3% in 2016, suggesting that the increase in births to unmarried parents has been in babies born to unmarried partners who are in a relationship.

Since the mid-1970s, there has been a trend towards having children at older ages. The percentage of births to mothers aged under 20 fell from an average of about 11% between 1976 and 1980 to less than 4% in 2016. Mothers aged 20 to 24 accounted for roughly a third of all births in 1976 to 1980 and 15% in 2016. The percentage of births to mothers aged 25 to 29 has also fallen, from around 35% in 1976 to 1980, to 27% in 2016. As a result, females aged over 30 accounted for over half of all births in 2016; 32% were to mothers aged 30 to 34, 18% were to 35 to 39 year olds and 4% were to females aged 40 and over.

Over 8 in 10 (83%) of births in 2016 were to mothers who had been born in the UK, including 73% to females who were born in Scotland. A further 9% of mothers had been born elsewhere in the EU, including 5 % from the countries which joined the EU in 2004 (the largest number were to mothers born in Poland). Commonwealth countries were the birthplace of 5% of mothers, including 2% from the Indian sub-continent. In the cases where the father’s country of birth was known, 84% had been born in the UK, including 74% who were born in Scotland.

Live births in Scotland 1855-2016

Graph showing live births in Scotland 1855-2016

Source: National Records of Scotland (NRS) Registration data

More Information on Births (National Records of Scotland website)

previous | contents | next