Baby boom puts us on top of birth rate league
Ireland's baby boom has secured its position as the EU country with the highest birth rate -- even in the expanded community.
The first demographic estimate of the EU27 published by Eurostat showed the birth rate here per 1,000 is 18.1, followed by the UK at 13, France at 12.9 and Estonia 12.2.
The lowest rate is in Germany at 8.3. Malta, Austria and Bulgaria are at 9.2.
The report also showed that the death rate in Ireland is the lowest at 6.1 per 1,000 followed by Cyprus at 6.6, Luxembourg 6.9 and Malta at 7.7. The country with the highest is Bulgaria where it is 14.2 per 1,000, Latvia 14 and Lithuania 13.2.
It means that Irish people can now look forward to living longer due to various factors including lifestyle and new treatments available for diseases.
Consequently, Ireland has the highest natural population growth of all the EU countries, +12.0 per 1,000. This contrasts with France at +4.5, Luxembourg at +4.3 and the UK at +3.6.
As of January 1, the population of the EU27 is 499.7 million.
Fine Gael MEP for Dublin Gay Mitchell said: "The high birth rate is particularly welcome as it will mean there would be more people available to contribute to pensions, which will be drawn on for longer given the equally welcome news that Ireland has the lowest death rate in the EU."
The report said the EU27 population grew by 4.4 per 1,000 inhabitants in 2008, due to natural population growth of +1.1 and net immigration of +3.3. In total, the EU27 population is estimated to have increased by 2.2 million in 2008.
In 2008, three-quarters of the increase in the EU27 population is estimated to have come from immigration.
In relative terms, Ireland again leads the way for immigration at +14.1 per 1,000 inhabitants, Slovenia was next at 12.6, Luxembourg at +11.9 and Cyprus +11.7.
In contrast, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have more emigration than immigration.
While the rise in the birth rate may be of benefit to the economy, in the long term it is creating a headache for the Health Service Executive.
It noted how there has been an "unexpected increase in the number of births with 70,620 registered in 2007, 5pc above the most optimistic projection. Provisional figures for 2008 would suggest that there could be up to 73,700 births last year."
The most optimistic projections suggest that this level of births would not be reached until 2011 at the earliest.
"This will place significant demands on our already stretched maternity services," it states.