Births, deaths and fertility rates

The births and deaths results have been obtained from the Office for National Statistics. 

The latest figures (2016), show that on a basic count level, both the Lancashire-12 and Lancashire-14 areas continue to register more live births than deaths each calendar year, however, there are some notable differences between the local authorities. With the districts of Blackpool, Fylde, Lancaster, Ribble Valley, West Lancashire and Wyre all recording more deaths than births in 2016.

Looking at things in more detail, using calculated rates, it was found that two areas (Lancaster and West Lancashire) recorded significantly high standardised mortality ratios (SMR) and significantly low total fertility rates (TFR) compared to the England average. Taken at face value, this would suggest these two districts are at the greatest risk of population shrinkage, within Lancashire-14. However, the latest population projections, which take into account inward and outward migration (including migration within UK {e.g. students}) suggest that both areas, which are home to large higher education establishments, will continue to see a gradual increase in their resident populations.

Further analysis found that Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Burnley and Hyndburn Pendle all have significantly higher TFRs and significantly higher SMRs than England (2016). Whilst Chorley and Preston recorded significantly higher SMRs and Pendle recorded a significantly high TFR.

Trend line analysis shows that over the past five years (2012-2016), Lancashire-12 has seen a decrease in both its SMR and its TFR. Whilst the total count shows that the number of births recorded in 2016 was the lowest since 2005, as with many areas, the number of deaths recorded each year has been consistently declining for some time now. These factors, combined with increases in life expectancy and advances in medical science, allowing people to live longer but not necessarily healthier lives, may be contributing towards the ageing population and the associated issues related to that. With the mid-year 2016 population estimates, suggesting that those aged 65+ account for a larger proportion (20%) of the Lancashire-12 population than those aged 15 and under (18%). 

Birth rates

The number of births in a given year is dependent on the number of women in the key childbearing ages (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 aged 15-44 driven by migration and mortality. 

General fertility rate (GFR)

The general fertility rate (GFR) is the total number of live births per 1,000 women of reproductive age (ages 15 to 49 years) in a population per year. This is a more refined way to measure fertility in a population than crude birth rate because the GFR accounts for the female population ages 15 to 49 years in the denominator, rather than the whole population. Despite this, differences in GFR may be due to underlying differences in the age structure of the female population over time or across populations of interest.

The latest figures give the Lancashire-12 a general fertility rate (GFR) of 61.7 for the calendar year 2016, in line with the national rate of 62.5, whilst Blackburn with Darwen (75.7) and Blackpool (70.6) both continue to record rates which are significantly above the national average.

At a district level Fylde (57.3), Lancaster (51.1), Ribble Valley (53.5), West Lancashire (49.5) and Wyre (58.3) all recorded GFRs which were significantly below the national average, whilst Burnley (75.3), Hyndburn (71.2) and Pendle (73.2) all recorded rates significantly above it.

Total fertility rate (TFR)

The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is the average number of children that would be born per female, if all females lived to the end of their childbearing years and bore children according to the age-specific fertility rates for that area and period. In 2016 Lancashire-12 recorded a TFR of 1.85 per 1,000, in line with the national rate of 1.81. While Blackburn with Darwen (2.25) and Blackpool (2.09) continue to record rates which are significantly above the national average.

At a district level, Burnley (2.19), Hyndburn (2.09), and Pendle (2.12) all recorded TFRs which were significantly above the England rate, whilst Lancaster (1.62) and West Lancashire (1.65) both recorded rates significantly below it.

Studies suggest that without inward migration, population sizes decrease 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 only Burnley and Pendle, from the Lancashire-12, and Blackburn with Darwen unitary authority were found to have a TFR above 2.1 in 2016, suggesting all other areas will require some form of inward migration in order to avoid population shrinkage and accelerated population ageing.


For more information about mortality rates across Lancashire-14, please see our mortality page.

Local data

Please click on the link in the panel below to download the latest live births and deaths data tables for England, Lancashire-12 and for our neighbouring unitary authorities of Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool. There are also individual births and deaths graphs for every district in the Area Profiles.

Readers may also be interested in our maternity and infancy pages.

[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 October 2017