Baby boom on the decline as birth rate here drops by 5pc
IRELAND'S baby boom is on the wane, with 5pc fewer births recorded in the second quarter of 2013 than a year earlier and mothers waiting longer than ever to start their families.
New Central Statistics Office figures show the Irish birth rate is down and the death rate is up -- but births still outnumber deaths and the population is now estimated to be 4.593 million.
There were 17,107 babies born in the second quarter of 2013, which was 5pc fewer than the same time last year and nearly 2,000 fewer than at the height of the baby boom in 2008.
Mothers are now waiting until they are 30-somethings to start families -- the age at which they have their first baby is now 30.2 years on average, which is up from 29.9 a year ago.
Including second and subsequent babies, the average age of mothers giving birth this year is 32.2 years, which is a full year older than it was back in 2008.
Women in Ireland are also having fewer babies than they used to -- they now have an average of 1.9 babies over their lifetime, which is down from the fertility rate of 2.1 in 2008, which was the rate needed to replace the population over time.
One-third of babies are born outside marriage, although the majority of these are to cohabiting parents, the Vital Statistics report shows.
Surprisingly, Dun Laoghaire/ Rathdown is the most socially conservative area of the country with only 23pc of babies born outside marriage compared with nearly 58pc in Limerick city.
There were only two births registered as being within civil partnership and there were 72 civil partnerships registered, well down from 120 in 2012.
The overall birth rate is now 14.9 per 1,000 people, but the highest rate was in Fingal in north Dublin, at 19 per 1,000; and the lowest was in Mayo at 12.1.
Some 5,444 couples married during the three-month period, which was the same as last year and the marriage rate is 10pc higher than it was back in 2004.
There were 7,644 deaths registered in the period, which was 8pc higher than last year, but the death rate is marginally lower than it was in 2004.
There were 58 infant deaths giving an infant mortality rate of 3.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, while the neonatal mortality rate of infants under four weeks was 2.2 per 1,000.