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Ireland has highest fertility rate in EU
[Posted: Wed 06/02/2002 www.irishhealth.com]
by Deborah Condon
Ireland has the highest fertility rate in Europe and the number of first births in 2000 was the highest on record, a new report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has found.
The report, 'Family Formation in Ireland', found that the number of births to unmarried mothers rose from 5% in 1980 to 32% in 2000. Patterns and limited evidence suggest that 'large proportions are in cohabiting unions and many enter marriage after the birth of the child', according to the ESRI.
Around 12% of children under the age of 15 are in lone parent families. This represents almost a doubling of the extent of lone parents since the early 1980s.
Marital breakdown and births outside of marriage are the two most common routes into lone parenthood. However the ESRI emphasises that a lack of data means it is not possible to be precise on this issue.
There is also little information available on the role of the 'absent' parent in lone parent families, it adds.
The report found that the vast majority of lone parents are women and these tend to have lower levels of education than married mothers in the same age group.
"While existing data gives extensive information on certain aspects of family formation in Ireland, there are important gaps. Guidance for policy on family issues is hampered as a result", the ESRI warned.
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