One in four babies born in the UK has a foreign mother or father, official figures showed yesterday.
Population data for the year to July 2006 showed the proportion of babies born to a foreign parent has risen to 25 per cent compared to under 20 per cent just six years ago.
The startling statistic reflected the impact of recent record levels of immigration on the population.
A spokesman for the Office for National Statistics said: “That reflects the cumulative effect of immigration over the last 40 years.”
Sir Andrew Green, the chairman of Migrationwatch, said over the next 20 years one in three new households will be a result of immigration.
“It is clear from these figures that immigration is continuing unchecked and continues to break all previous records—despite the fact this is opposed by the vast majority of the public,” he added.
Figures from the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) earlier this year showed about six million people living in Britain—one in 10—was born overseas.
This was far higher than the official figures from the 2001 census, which predated the recent surge in immigration.
Also, the foreign-born population is growing while the British-born population is declining. For almost a century, until the mid-1990s, natural growth was the main driver of population growth.
While there are still more births than deaths, net international migration into the UK has been increasingly important in population change.
The UK population has increased by eight per cent since 1971, from 55,928,000 to 60,587,000.
Growth has been faster in more recent years. Between mid-1991 and mid-2006 the population grew by an average annual rate of 0.4 per cent. The average growth per year since mid-2001 has been 0.5 per cent.
But this change has not occurred evenly across all age groups.
The population aged over 65 grew by 31 per cent, from 7.4 million to 9.7 million, while the population aged under 16 declined by 19 per cent, from 14.2 million to 11.5 million.
The largest percentage growth in population in the year to mid-2006 was at ages 85 and over (5.9 per cent).
The number of people aged 85 and over grew by 69,000 in the year to 2006, reaching a record 1.2 million.
This large increase reflects improving survival and the post-World War One baby boomers now reaching this age group.
The percentage of people under age 16 fell from 26 per cent in mid-1971 to 19 per cent in mid-2006. Over the same period, the percentage aged 65 and over increased to more than 11 million.
There is also a greater dependency of the old and young on the population of working age.
In 1971, there were 43.8 children per hundred people of working age, by 2006 this number had fallen to 30.5. This fall reflects both the smaller number of children in 2006 relative to 1971 and the increase in the working-age population, which was due to the 1960s baby boomers who joined the working-age population from the late 1970s. The ONS said the rise in the proportion of the population aged 65 and over is set to continue as the large numbers of people born after the Second World War and during the 1960s baby boom age.
“As the baby boomers move into retirement they will be replaced in the working age population by smaller numbers of people born since the 1960s,” the ONS said.
‘Even though fertility has risen recently, the number of people being born is still less than was the case in the 1960s.”