Rowena Mason, Telegraph (London), October 25, 2012
Immigrants have fueled a mini-baby boom in Britain over the last decade, with one in four children now born to a record 200,000 foreign mothers a year.
New figures show that the number of immigrants having babies has doubled since 2001, largely driven by an influx of Polish, Pakistani and Indian mothers.
This has been the main reason behind an increase in the overall UK birth rate to its highest level in decades, with 808,000 births last year, compared with 670,000 in 2001.
The spike in the birth rate is biggest in London, where six in ten babies are now born to immigrants each year.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics shows the highest increase in births has been in the Polish community, since the country was admitted to the European Union.
In 2001, fewer than 2,000 babies were born in Britain to Polish mothers.
This has now increased by at least eleven-fold to 23,000 last year, making Poland the top nationality for creating second-generation immigrants to the UK.
Women from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Somalia, Germany, South Africa, Lithuania and China have the next highest number of babies.
Birth to UK mothers have also risen, with British-born women have an average of 1.89 children.
However, they are not keeping pace with the births of children to foreign women in the UK, who are giving birth to an average of 2.28 children.
The proportion of foreign-born women of child-bearing age living in the UK has increased from 14 per cent to 18 per cent since 2007, giving them a substantial impact on the overall number of births.
David Cameron has promised to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands a year, instead of hundreds of thousands, amid fears about pressure on public services.
However, some population experts argue Britain will benefit from large numbers of immigrants having children to help meet the demands of an ageing population.
Gordon Sharp, head of the Continuous Mortality Investigations unit, an actuarial body, argues a higher birth rate means the nation’s growing elderly population will get greater support from working-age people in 30 years’ time.
He said: “It means the dependency ratio is not as severe as it might otherwise be.”
The figures came as Sadiq Khan, Labour’s shadow justice secretary, suggested many people with a long British ancestry know “bugger all” about history in comparison to enthusiastic immigrants.
“One of the frustrations I have is I often meet people who have gone through the citizenship ceremony who are so excited and so enthused and then I’ll be canvassing in my area and there’ll be people who have lived in the same home for three or four or five generations who know bugger all about our country, about our heritage,” he told The House magazine.
“It frustrates me that you’ve got new citizens who have an obligation to learn about our country but we aren’t doing enough to make sure everyone shares that knowledge.”