National Records of Scotland

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Number of births continues to fall

Number of births continues to fall

Tuesday, 12 Mar 2024
demography news release image

The number of births registered in Scotland in the fourth quarter of last year fell by almost eight per cent against the average according to National Records of Scotland. 

The latest NRS quarterly report on births, deaths, marriages and other vital events found 11,332 births happened between October and December. This was 7.8% lower than the recent average for this period. 

The infant death rate was 3.4 per 1,000 live births. This is lower than in the first three quarters of 2023 but there has been a generally increasing trend in the infant death rate since 2020.

The report found a total of 15,739 deaths among people of all ages in the final quarter of 2023. This is 6.9% lower than the expected number of deaths for quarter 4. 

NRS statistician Phillipa Haxton said: 

“In the last quarter of 2023 we saw the continuation of some long term trends.

“We’re still seeing falling numbers of births and rising numbers of deaths. 

“In part this reflects the changing age profile of the population which is steadily growing older.”

Meanwhile the number of marriages has fallen 9% against the recent average at 5,634 between October and December of last year. The number of same sex marriages was 232 which is similar to the average for the fourth quarter. Civil Partnerships have been open to mixed sex couples since 2021 and of the 183 which took place in quarter four 146 were between mixed sex partners. 

These figures are provisional. Final figures covering the whole of 2023 will be issued with Vital Events Reference tables in the summer. 


An error was spotted on 13/03/2024. The sentence 'This was 7.8% lower than the average for the same period in the previous four years.’ was updated to ‘This was 7.8% lower than the recent average for this period’.


  1. The National Records of Scotland (NRS) is responsible for producing statistics on Scotland’s population. 
  2. The report Births, Deaths and other Vital Events Quarter 4 2023 is available on line here. There is also the option to look at data tables here
  3. As a result of the methodology changes, we are no longer producing as many breakdowns of excess deaths as we previously did. Information on future developments to the new excess deaths methodology can be found on the ONS website.
  4. Comparisons are usually made by comparing the current year to the average for the previous five years. For 2023, standard practice would be to compare against the 2018- 2022 average. As the 2020 figures were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic – marriages were much lower than usual, deaths were higher, and registration of births was delayed - comparing the 2023 figures to an average including 2020 would not give a true reflection of how the latest quarter’s figures compare to the average. 
  5. 2023 comparisons have therefore been made against the 5 years 2017-2019 plus 2021-2022.
  6. Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff. General information about population statistics can be accessed in the About our Statistics section of the NRS website.

For media enquiries please contact Susie Rose at [email protected] or 07500 463450

Further information about the statistics is available from:

Statistics Customer Services    
Tel: 0131 314 4299 
E-mail: [email protected]