Births and deaths

Births and deaths have an impact on the national and local populations. The latest births and deaths figures from the Office for National Statistics (released July 2021), show that on a basic count level the Lancashire-12 area continues to register more deaths than live births in 2020. There are few differences between the local authorities, with only Pendle and Preston recording more live births than deaths. Of the two unitary authorities, Blackpool records more deaths than live births.

Key findings


The number of births in a given year is dependent on the number of women of childbearing age (15–44 years) and on fertility rates in that year, as well as annual changes in the size and age-structure of the female population, alongside migration and mortality. 

General fertility rate

The general fertility rate (GFR) is the total number of live births per 1,000 women of reproductive age (15 to 44 years) in a population per year. This is a more refined way to measure fertility in a population, rather than crude birth rate because the GFR accounts for the female population aged 15 to 44 years as the denominator, rather than the whole population. Despite this, differences in GFR may be due to underlying variations in the age structure of the female population over time or across populations of interest.

  • The latest figures give the Lancashire-12 area a GFR of 54.6 for the calendar year 2020, (England 55.3), down from 57.8 in 2019 (England 57.7 in 2019).
  • At a district level Burnley (67.0), Pendle (66.9), Hyndburn (62.7), Preston (59.0) and Rossendale (55.4) have a higher GFR than England.
  • Both the unitary authorities have a higher GFR (Blackburn with Darwen 65.7, Blackpool 63.6).

Total fertility rate

The total fertility rate (TFR) is the average number of live children that a group of women would bear if they experienced the age-specific fertility rates of the calendar year in question, throughout their childbearing lifespan. 

  • Trend line analysis shows that over the past nine years (2012-2020), Lancashire-12 has seen a decrease in its total fertility rate, from 1.9 to 1.6.
  • At a district level, Burnley (2.0), Pendle (2.0), Hyndburn (1.8) and Preston (1.7) have a higher total fertility rates than the Lancashire-12 total fertility rate in 2020. 

Studies suggest that without inward migration, population size decreases and population ageing accelerates when the TFR falls below 2.1 children per female[i]. This concept is known as replacement fertility and refers to the level of fertility required to ensure a population replaces itself in size.

  • Compared to the replacement fertility rate none of the authorities (including Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool) have a TFR above 2.0, indicating that all other areas will require some form of inward migration in order to avoid population shrinkage and accelerated population ageing.


  • In many of Lancashire-12's districts, the number of deaths recorded each year has increased, with the standardised mortality ratio (SMR) for all ages higher than England's rate (100) in all districts except Ribble Valley (89.7) and South Ribble (95.7) (2015-19). 

For more information about mortality rates across Lancashire-14, please see our mortality page. You may also be interested in our maternity and infancy pages.

There are also individual births and deaths graphs for every district in the Area Profiles section of Lancashire Insight.

Further analysis and data

Births and deaths (XLSX 96 KB)

[1] Smallwood and Chamberlain. (2005). Replacement fertility, what has it been and what does it mean ? Office for National Statistics : Population trends. 119, 21-26.

Page updated January 2022