UK fertility rates, migration and population

David Charles
3 min readJun 4, 2023

Public conversations around migration are often vigorous and charged, but rarely speak to the economic realities and benefits that are brought to the host nation (see The Economic Consequences of Immigration by Julian L. Simon).

A refreshing report by Laura Kuenssberg recently revealed how politicians are often stifled by their party-political agendas on migration topics.

What’s not usually discussed, however, is the extent to which the UK’s population actually needs to be supported by migrants. There are several core socio-economic issues here, discussed below, predicated around maintaining healthy, sustainable population growth and having an economically active population. (References at the end.)

The UK’s fertility rate has declined by 20% since 2012:

This will have a negative impact on population growth rates over the coming couple of decades. It is notable that the native female population in England and Wales has a 24% lower fertility rate than that of migrant women:

Thus, migrants have contributed to a better-than-otherwise future population growth rate. The government has a glaringly-unfulfilled responsibility to address the declining fertility rate and immigrants shouldn’t be excluded from the solution.

The other major concern is that the UK has a rapidly ageing population:

It can be seen that the number of people in the 65 years and over age group has grown proportionately much faster than the under 30s over the past 20 years. The 40 to 60 years group is outpacing the younger group by some margin, too.

As populations age, high levels of support are required in terms of healthcare, state pension supply, development of accessible infrastructure and more.

To maintain a balanced and thriving society, the younger age groups must be bolstered now, to reap the benefits in the coming couple of decades.

Finally, the UK’s population has been growing at a comfortable rate in recent years:

However, we shouldn’t let that mask the above issues. Net migration has been directed into the country, and has made up a not-insignificant proportion of that population growth. [Supporting data is forthcoming on this point, following the outcome of an enquiry with the ONS.]

The current UK government, and the next one, need to urgently address the fertility issues raised above, through positive policy on migration, childcare and working family support, and women’s employment rights.

All data taken from the UK Office of National Statistics. Analysis and visualisation by me.

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