Storbritannia opplever den største babyboomen siden 1973, og utenlandsfødte mødre står for 56 prosent av økningen i fødsler. Befolkningen i Storbritannia økte med 400.000 til 61.4 millioner bare i 2008, og siden 2001 har befolkningen økt med hele 2 millioner.

Fjorårets økning i antall fødsler er den største enkeltårsaken til befolkningsveksten i Storbritannia. Det vil si at for første gang på ti år har «naturlig vekst» – forskjellen mellom antall fødsler og dødsfall – overtatt for nettoinnvandring som den største pådriveren av befolkningsveksten.

Separate figures showed net immigration fell by up to 44 per cent last year because of a sharp rise in those returning home during the recession, especially Eastern Europeans.

Most strikingly, the figures show that around 33,000 extra babies were born compared with 2007. There were 220,000 more births than deaths.

Roma Chappell, ONS [Office of National Statistics. Min anm.] statistician, said: «For the first time in a decade natural change exceeded net migration as the main driver of population change.

«That’s actually quite exciting because it’s the highest fertility rate we have seen in the UK for some time. You have to go all the way back to 1973 to find a time when the fertility rate went higher.»

The figures show that up to 56 per cent of the increase was accounted for by foreign-born mothers, whose fertility rate has remained high at 2.5 children per mother.

However, the fertility rate among UK born woman has increased by 10 per cent in just four years, taking it to 1.84 children.

Storbritannias befolkning øker nå med 0.7 prosent hvert år, noe som er en dobling av befolkningens vekstrate i 1990-årene og en tredobling av vekstraten i 80-årene.

The ONS said there was no single reason for the increase but highlighted a previously unnoticed trend of more women wanting children in their 20s, instead of waiting until they have established careers.

It also pointed to changes in support for childbearing, such as tax credits and maternity leave, as influencing the baby boom.

Anastasia de Waal, director of family and education for the think-tank Civitas, said the trend signaled a shift in women’s priorities from previous decades where having a career was seen as the most important.

«People are saying it is not all about work. They believe having children early is now more of a priority.

Separate statistikker fra ONS viser også at nettoinnvandringen i 2008 sank med 44 prosent til 118.000 – den laveste raten siden 2004, da EU utvidet seg til å omfatte de øst-europeiske landene. Fallet skyldes hovedsakelig en 50 prosents økning i antallet øst-europeere som reiser hjem. Totalt har antall mennesker som forlater Storbritannia økt med 24 prosent.

Antallet som ankommer Storbritannia holder seg imidlertid stabilt på litt over en halv million mennesker i året.

Critics said the population was still on course to hit 70 million within the next 25 years, and they accused Home Secretary Alan Johnson of «sleeping on the job».

Mr Johnson said last month he didn’t «lie awake at night» worrying about the population hitting 70 million.

Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, said: «Alan Johnson says he doesn’t lose sleep over Britain’s population growth. Perhaps he should, instead of sleeping on the job.

«These figures show our population is still rising fast, even when the recession is driving hundreds of thousands of people to leave.»

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of campaign group Migrationwatch UK said: «The bottom line is that the population of the UK will exceed 70 million within 25 years even at these levels of immigration.»

The Home Office said the figures showed immigration was «under control».

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: «The fall in net migration is further proof that migrants come to the UK for short periods of time, work, contribute to the economy and then return home.»

The figures revealed further signs of an ever ageing population after the number of people aged 85 and over hit a record 1.3 million – the equivalent of one in every 50 people.

The Telegraph: New baby boom for Britain

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