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Statistical bulletin: Births and Deaths in England and Wales (Provisional), 2011 This product is designated as National Statistics

Released: 10 July 2012 Download PDF


A production error was identified in the calculation of 2011 age-standardised mortality rates for cancer and circulatory diseases. The rates and percentage change since 2001 have now been corrected.

Key findings

  • There were 723,913 live births in England and Wales in 2011, increasing slightly (by 0.1 per cent) from 723,165 in 2010
  • There were 484,367 deaths registered in England and Wales in 2011, compared with 493,242 in 2010 (a fall of 1.8 per cent)
  • In 2011, the provisional Total Fertility Rate (TFR) decreased to 1.98 children per woman from 2.00 in 2010
  • Age-standardised mortality rates (ASMR) in 2011 were the lowest ever recorded for England and Wales, at 6,172 deaths per million population for males and 4,402 deaths per million population for females


This bulletin presents summary statistics on live births, stillbirths and deaths in England and Wales in 2011. Birth statistics reported include counts of live births, stillbirths, provisional fertility rates by age of mother, by area of usual residence and the percentage of births to mothers born outside the UK. Death statistics reported include counts of deaths by age and sex and by selected cause. Standardised mortality ratios and infant mortality rates by area of usual residence are also included.

The 2011 fertility rates and age-standardised mortality rates within this release are provisional, calculated using 2011 population projections at the national level and 2010 population estimates at the sub-national level. Rates for 2011 will be finalised in October/November 2012 after the 2011 population estimates based on the 2011 Census are published.

This is the first time that 2011 annual figures on births and deaths in England and Wales have been published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Planned changes to birth and death outputs

The 2011 Total Fertility Rates and age-standardised mortality rates within the birth summary tables 2011 (provisional) and death registrations summary tables 2011 (provisional) will be revised in October/November 2012 after the 2011 population estimates based on the 2011 Census become available.

During May 2012 changes were made to the Population Statistics Act, which means that information on the number of previous children and whether previously married is now collected from all mothers at birth registration and not just from married women. This will have an impact on a number of tables and proposals for changes to outputs for 2012 and 2013 data are available on the ONS website. Feedback from users is welcome.

Changes to the tables included within Live Births by socio-economic status of father are also being considered including the possible implementation of the combined method for deriving the National Statistics Socio-economic classification (using the higher NS-SEC of both parents rather than the NS-SEC of the father). A proposal for changes to outputs for 2012 data will be available on the ONS website alongside the release of 2011 data.

Future changes to mortality outputs are outlined in the plan for mortality outputs available on the ONS website. Feedback from users is welcome, see background notes for contact details.

Users and uses of birth and death statistics

The Office for National Statistics uses these data to:   

  • produce population estimates and population projections both national and subnational

  • quality assure census estimates

  • report on social and demographic trends

  • analyse mortality; for example infant mortality, where infant deaths are linked to their corresponding birth record to enable more detailed analyses on characteristics such as age of parents, birthweight and whether the child was born as part of a multiple birth

  • produce life expectancy estimates

The Department of Health (DH) is a key user of birth and death statistics. Data are used, for example, to plan maternity services, inform policy decisions and monitor child mortality. The Public Health Outcomes Framework sets out the desired outcomes for public health and how these will be measured, this includes indicators related to births and deaths. Similar indicators are also included within the NHS Outcomes Framework.

Other key users of the data are local authorities and other government departments for planning and resource allocation. For example, local authorities use birth statistics to decide how many school places will be needed in a given area. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) uses detailed birth and death statistics to feed into statistical models they use for pensions and benefits.

Users also include other public sector organisations such as the Police and the Home Office who are interested in data on external causes of death. Private sector organisations such as banks, insurance and investment companies are particularly interested in deaths by single year of age and region which feeds into risk estimation, while births data are also of interest to retailers to inform future demand.

Other users include academics, demographers and health researchers who conduct research into trends and characteristics. Lobby groups use birth and death statistics to support their cause, for example, campaigns against school closures, midwife shortages, alcohol misuse or suicide. Special interest groups, such as Birth Choice UK, make the data available to enable comparisons between maternity units to help women choose where they might like to give birth. Organisations such as Eurostat and the United Nations (UN) use birth and death statistics for making international comparisons. The media also report on key trends and statistics.

Further Information on birth and death statistics

More data on births and deaths in England and Wales in 2011, including Deaths by single year of age are available on the ONS website.

Quality and Methodology Information documents for births and deaths statistics are available on the ONS website. Further information on data quality, legislation and procedures relating to births and deaths is available on the ONS website  in births metadata and deaths metadata.

Further 2011 births and deaths statistics will be published later in 2012, see the Publication Hub for more details on releases.

Interactive mapping tools, which enable trends in mortality and fertility to be analysed at the local level are available on the Neighbourhood Statistics website. The tools will be updated to include 2011 rates in October/November 2012 once the 2011 population estimates based on the 2011 Census become available.

To meet user needs, very timely but provisional counts of death registrations are published as follows: Provisional counts of weekly death registrations by age-sex group and region and provisional counts of monthly death registrations by local authority.  Users should note that figures for 2012 have not been subject to the full quality assurance process so figures are considered provisional.

For births data for other UK countries please see the latest birth statistics for Northern Ireland and the latest birth statistics for Scotland.

For mortality data for other UK countries please see statistics on deaths in Scotland and statistics on deaths in Northern Ireland.

International comparisons of live birth and death rates are available in the Vital Statistics: Population and Health Reference Tables.


1. Jefferies J (2008) Fertility Assumptions for the 2006-based national population projections, Population Trends 131 pp 19-27

2. RAND Corporation (RAND) (2012) Europe’s demography: Are babies back? The recent recovery in EU period fertility due to older childbearing

3. Tromans N, Natamba E and Jefferies J (2009), ‘Have women born outside the UK driven the rise in UK births since 2001?’ Population Trends 136, pp 28–42, summer 2009

4. Sobotka, T., Skirbekk, V., and Philipov, D. (2010) ‘Economic recession and fertility in the developed world: a literature review’. Vienna Institute of Demography. Research note produced for the European Commission

5. Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity (SANDS), UK stillbirth and neonatal death charity, Causes and risk factors for stillbirths [accessed 22 June 2012]

6. National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU) (2011) ‘Inequalities in Infant Mortality Work Programme’ [accessed 02 July 2012]

7. Tromans N, Natamba E, Jefferies J and Norman P (2008), ‘Have national trends in fertility between 1986 and 2006 occurred evenly across England and Wales?’, Population Trends 133, pp 7–19, autumn 2008

8. Office for National Statistics (2011), Life Expectancy at birth and at age 65 for health areas in the United Kingdom, 2003-05 to 2007-09

9. Department for Health (2004), Choosing Health: making healthy choices easier

10. Department for Health (2012), Public Health Outcomes Framework

11. Department for Health (2011), NHS Outcomes Framework

Background notes

  1. The TFRs and age-standardised mortality rates for 2011 are provisional. The national rates for 2011 have been calculated using the 2010-based population projections. Sub-national rates are calculated using 2010 population estimates.

  2. Death figures are based on deaths registered in the data year. These death figures are based on deaths registered in the data year. This includes some deaths that occurred in years prior to 2011 (20,917 deaths). ONS also takes an annual extract of death occurrences in the autumn following the data year (to allow for late registrations). This is used for seasonal analysis of mortality data and several infant mortality outputs. The difference between death registrations and death occurrences in a year is relatively small. For example, the number of death registrations in 2010 involving deaths occurring in 2010 was 473,661 while the number of  2010 death occurrences was 491,449 (a difference of 4 per cent).

  3. Birth figures are based on births occurring in the data year, but incorporate a small number of late registrations from births occurring in the previous year.

  4. There is a large degree of comparability in birth and death statistics between countries within the UK. However, there are some differences although these are believed to have a negligible impact on the comparability of the statistics. These differences are outlined in Quality and Methodology Information documents for births and deaths.

  5. The total fertility rate (TFR) is the average number of live children that a group of women would have if they experienced the age-specific fertility rates of the calendar year in question throughout their childbearing lives. The TFR provides an up-to-date measure of the current intensity of childbearing. Changes in timing of births may influence the TFR; for example if women are increasingly delaying childbearing to older ages the TFR may underestimate average family size. National TFRs are calculated by summing single-year age-specific fertility rates over all ages within the childbearing years (taken to be ages ‘15 and under’ to ages ‘44 and over’). TFRs for subnational areas (that is regions, counties, unitary authorities and health authorities/boards) are calculated by summing five-year age-specific fertility rates over all childbearing ages and then multiplying by five (this method gives more robust TFRs for areas with smaller populations). The national TFRs for 2011 have been calculated using the 2010-based population projections. Sub-national TFRs are calculated using 2010 population estimates.

  6. A standardised mortality ratio (SMR) is essentially a comparison of the number of the observed deaths in a population with the number of expected deaths if the age-specific death rates were the same as a standard population. It is expressed as a ratio of observed to expected deaths, multiplied by 100. If an area has an SMR equal to 100 it implies that the mortality rate for the area is the same as the national mortality rate. A number higher than 100 implies an excess mortality rate whereas a number below 100 implies below average mortality. Comparisons of SMRs across years can be misleading because they are influenced by the size and the age-sex structure of the population in local areas which varies between years.

  7. Definitions used in this bulletin:

    • Stillbirth – born after 24 or more weeks completed gestation and which did not, at any time, breathe or show signs of life

    • Early neonatal – deaths under 7 days

    • Perinatal – stillbirths and early neonatal deaths

    • Neonatal – deaths under 28 days

    • Postneonatal – deaths between 28 days and 1 year

    • Infant – deaths under 1 year

  8. The infant mortality rates in this release have been calculated by dividing the number of infant death registrations (deaths under 1 year) by the number of live births occurring in the year plus late registrations from the previous year. Infant mortality rates can also be calculated using death occurrences. These rates are not released until later because for the death occurrences dataset to be acceptably complete it must be taken some 9 months after the end of the relevant calendar period. All perinatal and neonatal rates have also been calculated using death registrations rather than death occurrences. Statistics on infant, neonatal and perinatal deaths occurring in England and Wales in 2011 will be published in Child Mortality Statistics (this publication is based on death occurrences rather than registrations).

  9. Coding underlying cause of death: the cause of death data are based on the final underlying cause of death, which takes account of any additional information provided by medical practitioners or coroners after the death has been registered. The original underlying cause of death only changes in a very small number of deaths (around 0.2 per cent) in a given year. Deaths registered in 2011 have been coded to the Tenth Revision of the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD–10).

  10. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 contained provisions enabling two females in a same-sex couple to register a birth from 1 September 2009 onwards. Due to the small numbers of births registered to same sex couples, births registered within a civil partnership are included with births registered within marriage. Births registered by a same-sex couple outside of a civil partnership have been included with births registered outside marriage. The impact on 2011 birth statistics is negligible since only 0.08 per cent of live births were registered to same-sex couples. In 2011 there were 417 live births registered to same-sex couples in a civil partnership and 191 live births registered to a same-sex couple outside a civil partnership.

  11. The 2011 standardised mean (average) age of mother has been calculated using the mid-2010 population estimates. The standardised mean age of mother is used in order to eliminate the impact of any changes in the distribution of the population by age and therefore enables trends over time to be analysed. Standardised means are calculated using rates per 1,000 female population by single year of age of mother.

  12. A list of the names of those given pre-publication access to the statistics and written commentary is available in pre-release Annual Births & Deaths - First Release.  The rules and principles which govern pre-release access are featured within the Pre-release Access to Official Statistics Order 2008.

  13. Special extracts and tabulations of births and deaths data for England and Wales are available to order for a charge (subject to legal frameworks, disclosure control, resources and agreements of costs, where appropriate). Such enquiries should be made to:

    Vital Statistics Outputs Branch

    Health and Life Events Division

    Office for National Statistics

    Segensworth Road




    PO15 5RR

    Tel: +44 (0)1329 444 110


    The ONS charging policy is available on the ONS website.

  14. We would welcome feedback on the content, format and relevance of this release. The Health and Life Events user engagement strategy is available to download from the ONS website. Please send feedback to the postal or email address above.

  15. Follow ONS on Twitter and Facebook.

  16. The statistical bulletin and tables within this release will be revised and be available October/November 2012.

  17. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

Statistical contacts

Name Phone Department Email
Elizabeth McLaren +44 (0)1329 444110 Vital Statistics Outputs Branch
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
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