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Thursday 14 December 2017

Marriage stands test of time as birth and death rates fall

Marriage remains as popular as ever. Picture posed
Marriage remains as popular as ever. Picture posed
Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

BIRTH and death rates have plummeted over the last 150 years but marriage remains as popular as ever.

Fascinating new historical reports published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) give a snapshot of the dramatic changes in the lives of Irish people between 1864 and the present.

Annual reports on marriages, births and deaths are now available online from 1864 to 2011, providing a detailed picture of how Irish people lived and died over the last century and a half.

As well as raw statistics, they provide some interesting weather-related titbits such as the spotting of a large yellow butterfly in the Phoenix Park in March 1864 or the fact that outdoor geraniums were being killed by a severe frost in January.

The reports show that there were 136,414 births in 1864, which meant 24 babies were born for every 1,000 people in the country.

By the time Ireland got its independence in 1922, the number of births had plummeted to just 58,849, while in 2011 there were 74,033 babies born or 16.2 for every 1,000 people.

Back in 1864, just 5,180 or 4pc of babies were classed as "illegitimate", whereas in 2011 the number of babies born outside marriage had increased fivefold to 25,091, or one in three of all births.

Your chances of dying early were much higher in 1864 as there were 93,144 deaths registered that year, giving a death rate of 16.4 per 1,000 people. By contrast, there were just 28,456 deaths in 2011, giving a death rate of 6.2 per 1,000 people.


A total 13,426 babies under a year old died in 1864, meaning they accounted for a massive 14.4pc of all deaths then, whereas in 2011 there were just 262 infant deaths.

But despite all these radical social changes, the annual reports show that marriage has stood the test of time.

In 1864, there were 27,406 marriages registered, though this fell to 15,141 in 1922 before climbing again to 19,855 in 2011.

"Overall, however, the marriage rate per 1,000 of the population has remained remarkably consistent since 1864 when it was 4.8 (per 1,000 people)," the CSO said.

* THE date for the next 'snapshot' of the country's births, deaths and marriages has been set.

It will take place on Sunday, April 24. On Census Night 2011, there were 4,581,269 people resident in the country.

Irish Independent

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