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Age-specific fertility rates


Source: Office for National Statistics – Births in England and Wales (summary tables)


  • The fertility rate is a measure of the annual number of births to women of a specified age or age group, per 1,000 women in that age group.
  • The chart shows the age-specific fertility rates for calendar years between 1938 and 2019.
  • The rates for women under 20, as well as those aged 40 and over, are based on the female populations aged 15 to 19 and 40 to 44, respectively.
  • Age-specific fertility rates for 1981 are based on a 10% sample due to the late submission of some birth registrations.
  • The population estimates used to calculate fertility rates from 1938 to 1980 are rounded to the nearest hundred and are therefore of a slightly lower level of accuracy than the fertility rates for 1981 onwards.


Key dates 
1939 - 1945Second World War
Introduction of the contraceptive pill
Family Planning Act
Made contraception readily available through the NHS
Abortion Act
Legalised abortion under 28 weeks free on the NHS.



This page is part of Our Changing Society, a free resource developed by CLOSER to provide detailed information about the historical and political backdrop to study participants’ lives.

CLOSER’s mission is to increase the visibility, use and impact of longitudinal population studies, data and research to ensure that longitudinal evidence is used to address the health, social, economic and environmental challenges facing the UK, now and in the future.

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