Canada's fertility rate at 10-year high: StatsCan

Canada's fertility rate reached a 10-year high in 2006, when women aged 30 to 34 had more babies than women aged 25 to 29 for the first time, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Quebec and Alberta accounted for 70 per cent of the total increase in births

Canada's fertility rate reached a 10-year high in 2006, when women aged 30 to 34 had more babies than women aged 25 to 29 for the first time, Statistics Canada said Friday.

The total fertility rate — the average number of children per women  — rose to 1.59 in 2006, up from 1.54 in 2005, the agency's health statistic division said in its report on births. 

The replacement level fertility, or the level of fertility the population needs to replace itself from one generation to the next, is 2.1 in Canada.

"The recent increase in births could be explained partly by the fact that many women from the echo generation had entered their childbearing years and their fertility rates edged up," the report said.

Members of the echo generation were born between 1988 and 1995, when baby boomers gave birth in large numbers, according to the report. An earlier baby boom echo occurred in 1974 and 1975.

In 2006, 354,617 births were registered, an increase of 12,441 newborns from the year before. The number of births was up 3.6 per cent, the largest annual increase since 1989.

Childbearing postponed

Women in Canada continue to postpone childbearing. Over the last 20 years, the average age of women giving birth rose from 27.0 to 29.3, the agency said.

In 2006, for the first time, the fertility rate of Canadian women aged 30 to 34 surpassed that of women aged 25 to 29. The age-specific fertility rate for the older group was 100.9 in 2006, compared with 98.5 for women in their late twenties, the analysis showed.

The fertility rate of women aged 30 to 34 surpassed that of women aged 25 to 29 in 2006 living in Nova Scotia, Ontario, British Columbia and Yukon. 

From 2005 to 2006, births were up in every province and territory except for Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories.

Quebec and Alberta contributed the most to the national increase in births, accounting for 70 per cent of the total increase.

The number of stillbirths in Canada was 2,272 in 2006, an increase of 2.9 per cent from 2005. The stillbirth rate remained at 6.4 per 1,000 total births (live births and stillbirths) during the two years studied.