There were 56,812 live births in 2020, comprising of 29,225 males and 27,587 females. The corresponding total for 2019 was 59,294. The birth rate in 2020 was 11.4 per 1,000 population, 0.6 lower than the corresponding birth rate in 2019, which was 12.0 per 1,000 of the population. See table 1.1 and table 1.2.
Looking back 30 and 50 years ago, in 1990 and 1970 respectively, the average age was 29.6 years. In 2020, the average age of mothers giving birth was 33.1 years, which is the highest average age of mothers at maternity, since this information was first recorded in 1955. See figure 1.1, table 1.3 and map 1
For European comparison on maternal average age see: Eurostat.
The percentage of births to teenage mothers was 1.5% (857) of all births in 2020, compared to 2019, when it was 1.4% (858). This was equal to the lowest percentage of births to mothers under 20 years since 1958 when it also accounted for 1.4% of all births. From 1959 onwards the percentage of births to mothers in this age group continued to increase, until it reached a peak in 1999 when 6.2% (3,314) of all births were to mothers under 20. The percentage of mothers in this age-group had continued to decrease each year since 1999, prior to a slight increase in 2020.
At the other end of the scale, the number of births to mothers aged 40 years and over are increasing. In 2020, there were 8.3% (or 4,700) of births to mothers aged 40 and over, an increase of 0.4% on 2019. In 1981, mothers under 30 years of age accounted for 59% of births. However, the proportion of births to this age group declined fairly steadily to reach 26% in 2020. See table 1.4 and figure 1.2.
For European comparison of maternal age please see: Eurostat.
A total of 22,291 births (39%) were to first time mothers in 2020. Second time mothers had 19,743 births (35%) and third time mothers had 9,764 births (17%). Mothers that already had three or more live-born children accounted for the remaining 8.8% of births. See figure 1.3 and table 1.4.
In 2020, 34,850 (or 61%) births occurred within marriage/civil partnership and 21,962 (39%) births occurred outside marriage/civil partnership. The percentage of births outside marriage/civil partnership was 0.5 percent higher than in 2019. There were no births within civil partnerships in 2020. The highest percentage of births outside marriage/civil partnership occurred in Limerick City, accounting for 51% of all births, while the area with the lowest percentage was in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown at 25%. See tables 1.5 and 1.6.
The lowest ever number of births outside marriage/civil partnership was recorded in 1959 (1.6%). Since then there has been a steady increase in the percentage of births outside marriage/civil partnership, notably since 1980.
In 2020, babies with a gestational age of 36-39 weeks represented the majority (55%) of births of known gestation. Babies with a gestational age of under 28 weeks represented the lowest percentage of births of known gestation at 0.3%. See tables 1.7, 1.8 and 1.9.
In 2020, babies with a birthweight of between 3,500 and 3,999 grams accounted for the highest percentage of births of known birthweight at 35%. The majority of babies (53%) in this group and of known gestation, had a gestational age of 40 weeks and over. See tables 1.7, 1.8 and 1.9.
There were 56,498 (99%) hospital births in 2020. The highest number of hospital births in 2020 was recorded in Dublin City with 11% (6,435) of all births. This was followed by Cork County (5,110) and Fingal (4,069) accounting for 9.0% and 7.2% of all hospital births respectively. See tables 1.10 and 1.11.
There were 314 domiciliary births in 2020, 54 more than the 260 recorded in 2019. Such births have dropped from one in three births in the early 1950’s to just 5.5 per thousand live births in 2020. Domiciliary births include home births and other births that take place in a location other than a hospital. See tables 1.10 and 1.11.
The highest number of births in maternity hospitals in 2020 was recorded in the Rotunda Hospital with 15% (8,261) of all births. This was followed by The Coombe Women's & Infants Hospital (7,541) and The National Maternity Hospital, Holles St (7,331), each having 13% of all maternity hospital births respectively. Outside of Dublin, Cork University Maternity Hospital had the highest number of births with 7,000 births or 12% of all maternity hospital births in 2020. See table 1.11.
In 2020, 77% of mothers were of Irish nationality, 2.0% of UK nationality and 2.2% of EU-14 (excluding Ireland) nationality. There were 10% of mothers from EU-27 (excluding EU-14) while there were 9.4% of mothers of other nationality. The nationality of the mother was not stated for 0.03% of births. See tables 1.12 and 1.13.
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. As it was only part of the EU for one month in 2020 - it is excluded as part of the EU 27 for the full year.
The number of maternities in 2020 which resulted in live births was 55,790 including 1,013 sets of twins, 11 sets of triplets and one set of quadruplets. This is equivalent to a “twinning rate” of 18.2 (i.e. the number of sets of live twins per 1,000 maternities which resulted in live births). Over the past 29 years, the twinning rate has increased significantly – from 11.7 in 1991, to an all-time high of 19.0 in 2016. See table 1.14.
In 2020, the highest number of births 16,623 (or 29%) took place in the Dublin regional authority area. In contrast, the smallest number of births (3,552) was in the Midland region (Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath) with 6.3% of all births. See tables 1.15, 1.16, map 2 and background notes.
Outside the state figures not included in the state total
The total period fertility rate (TPFR) is derived from the age-specific fertility rates. It gives the theoretical average number of children who would be born alive to a woman during her lifetime if she were to pass through her childbearing years conforming to the age-specific fertility rates of a given year. A value of 2.1 is generally taken to be the level at which a generation would replace itself in the long run, ignoring migration.
The TPFR has fallen by 22% in the past 30 years, from 2.12 in 1990 to 1.65 in 2020. In Ireland, it dropped below the replacement level in 1989 and again in 1991 and has remained there since. If Ireland's TPFR had been 2.1 for 2020 then the natural increase in population would have been 30,489 (the actual natural increase was 23,956). See table 1.17.
For European comparison see: Eurostat.
In 2020, just under one in five mothers (18%) stated their occupation as homemaker. The number varied widely according to the age group of the mother, with 58% of mothers under 20 years and 41% of mothers in the 20-24 year age group, respectively recording their occupation as homemaker. In contrast, only 13% of mothers in the 30-39 year age group stated their occupation to be that of homemaker while 13% of mothers over 40 years were in this category. See table 1.18.