The truth about Romanian birth rates in Britain

Romanian migrants getting on a coach to western Europe.

You see the world as you choose, according to the self-help books. Like looking through a television camera: if you train the lens on misery, without the benefit of background or context, you might see life as miserable. This sums up much of the press when diversity is discussed.

Let’s take a recent example: the birth statistics from the Office for National Statistics. We learned a couple of things from the recent release of figures about who is giving birth. But what we learned depended on who was doing the telling. If the direction of your lens was trained by the Daily Telegraph, the big news was that "Romanian births in Britain are double the rate in home country". Yikes. It also said they have "more children than immigrants from any other European country", which was wrong. The Times said Romanian-born women have "the highest birth rate of any foreign-born parents". That was wrong, too.

The same directional pull was in evidence in the Daily Mail and Sun. Romanians, said the Sun, were most fertile, with an average "2.93 births"; and came 11th in terms of number of births, "despite Britain’s borders only opening to the country this year". You might say that is good news for the future of pensions in an ageing population that needs taxpayers. But that would mean doing something quite different with the lens.

The Independent did train its lens differently. It said "second-generation migrants" are driving a baby boom: "British women are having significanly more children than a decade ago, with birth rates for mothers in England and Wales up by 18%." There was still stuff about Romanians. Women born in Romania and the Czech Republic had "the highest total fertility rate of any EU country of birth (2.93 and 2.77 respectively)". But there was also context: in 2011, whence came these figures, "these countries of birth accounted for only a relatively small number of births, 3,500 from Romanains and 1,600 from Czechs". So they can’t be blamed for a buggy shortage at Mothercare.

The truth about Romanian birth rates in Britain


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