The economy might have been languishing in the doldrums, but something in the West Midlands has been booming – making babies.
There were a record 729,674 children born last year in England & Wales, the highest figure since 1971, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.
And in the region, more than 73,000 were brought kicking and screaming into the world, a total greater than at any time over the last 15 years.
The government statistics also revealed the West Midlands has the highest fertility rate in England.
A Brummie mummy has 2.04 children on average, compared to the national average of 1.92. The North East had the lowest fertility rate of 1.83 children per woman.
This is the second consecutive year that the West Midlands has come top of the fertility charts. In 1982, the average Birmingham woman had 1.9 children.
The total number of births has also been steadily rising in the last decade, and is up by 20 per cent from 2002, when there were only 61,400 newborns.
Professor Asif Ahmed, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Health at Aston University said: “Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe with lots of intellectual potential. The challenge is to provide the right kind of environment and educational conditions where this energy can thrive.”
The figures also reveal that over 1,000 babies born in the West Midlands were delivered at home and there were 107 emergency deliveries listed as having taken place ‘elsewhere’.
Britain now has the fastest growing population in Europe in terms of absolute numbers of people.
A high birth rate is seen as positively good for a local economy as young working-age people help ease the tax and spending burden of an ageing population.
Birmingham has a younger demographic profile than the rest of country due to the city’s student population and high number of births.
The city’s population has increased by almost 90,000 since 2001.
The West Midlands also had the highest infant mortality rates in the country, with 5.5 deaths per thousand births, according to ONS data.