The annual statistical reference volume was published on births and fertility. There were 639,721 live births in England and Wales in 2004, an increase of 2.9 per cent on the 2003 figure of 621,469. This was the third successive annual percentage rise in live births since 2002, and the highest annual number of live births since 1997.
Source: Birth Statistics: Review of the Registrar General on births and patterns of family building in England and Wales, 2004, Series FM1 33, Office for National Statistics (0845 601 3034)
An article investigated whether the age at which a woman first became a mother differed more according to her level of educational attainment in England and Wales than in France and Norway.
Source: Michael Rendall, Christine Couet, Trude Lappegard, Isabelle Robert-Bobée, Marit Rønsen and Steve Smallwood, 'First births by age and education in Britain, France and Norway', Population Trends 121, Autumn 2005, Office for National Statistics, Palgrave Macmillan (01256 329242)
The conception rate in England and Wales rose by 2 per cent between 2002 and 2003, from 72.2 to 73.7 conceptions per 1,000 women aged 15-44, according to provisional statistics. The number of under-16 pregnancies increased by 2.5 per cent, to 8,076. A minister said that the government had reached the limits of its ability to contain teenage pregnancy, and could make no further progress without the help of parents.
Source: 'Conceptions in England and Wales, 2003', Health Statistics Quarterly 26, Summer 2005, Office for National Statistics, TSO (0870 600 5522) | The Guardian, 26 May 2005
An article said that fertility levels in England and Wales had been below the level needed to replace the population for around 30 years. But the population was still experiencing natural increase (more births than deaths); and given the existing level of fertility and improving mortality rates, the population would not see any natural reduction for another 30 years.
Source: Steve Smallwood and Jessica Chamberlain, 'Replacement fertility, what has it been and what does it mean?', Population Trends 119, Spring 2005, Office for National Statistics, Palgrave Macmillan (01256 329242)