BY DR ANGELO BOTTONE – Iona Institute –

Thanks mainly to Covid-19, Ireland saw a huge drop in the number of births in the second quarter of this year compared with the same period last year. At 14.6pc, it was the second biggest fall in Europe, and would have been even worse were it not for the number of non-Irish nationals having babies here. We are headed for a demographic cliff.

Vital statistics for the second quarter of 2021 released by the CSO last week show that 11,551 babies were born from April to June this year, whereas in the same period in 2020 there were 13,527 births. That is a drop of 1,976, the equivalent of -14.6 pc. An enormous reduction. The fertility rate is now well below replacement level.

Those born in the second quarter of this year were conceived in third quarter of last year, that is, between July and September when the air was still thick with fear of Covid.

If we compare births for the first quarter of this year with the first quarter of last year (before the pandemic got a grip on the country), there was a fall of 3.3pc, not too out of line with trend for the last few years. But as Covid got a grip, conceptions, and then births, nosedived.

With the exception of Moldova, Ireland has had the highest drop in Europe in 2021 so far.

Not surprisingly, the number of marriages plunged as well.

Some 2,558 weddings took place in the second quarter of 2021 in Ireland. About half (50.8pc) compared to 2019.

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Iona Institute