Births are down 4.1 percent from 2019, according to the Office of National Statistics, which warned 2020 numbers have been affected by delays in registrations due to the Covid pandemic.
In 2020, there were 613,936 live births in England and Wales, while fertility rates fell to a record low, falling to 1.58 children per woman, the ONS added.
Total fertility rates (TRF) declined across all age groups for the fourth year in a row, with 3.8 stillbirths per 1,000 total births in 2020.
A report by the Center for Population Change warned in March that birth rates had already fallen to “historically low levels” before the pandemic last year.
She expects further declines “in the next three years”.
Financial hardship, uncertainty and general fear of the future during the pandemic contributed to the decline in 2020, researchers say.
The reasons for the pre-Covid decline are more complex and include demographic change as well as the rising cost of living.
According to the ONS, the number of births has fallen for the fifth year in a row and is at its lowest level since 2002.
Since the most recent high in 2012, the number of live births has fallen by 15.9 percent, said the ONS.
The TRF for England and Wales fell to 1.58 children per woman in 2020, the lowest level since records began in 1938.
The rate is 4.2 percent lower than 2019 and 3.1 percent lower than the previous record low of 2001 when the rate was 1.63 children per woman.
In 2020, 34.8 percent of all children born in England and Wales were born with either one or both parents outside the UK, up from 34.3 percent in 2019.
In 2020, Pakistan became the most common country of birth for non-UK born mothers for the first time since 2009, followed by Romania in second place and Poland in third place.
Despite Romania’s rise to second place, the number of births to women born in Romania fell by 2.2 percent compared to 2019, the first decrease since moving up to the top 10 in 2012.
Meanwhile, separate figures released earlier this week in a study by Imperial College London showed an “alarming” decline in life expectancy in several communities in cities across northern England.
Areas in cities like Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool had the lowest life expectancy in England, according to the study funded by the Wellcome Trust and published in the Lancet Public Health Journal on Tuesday.
The researchers who conducted the study said the differences between north and south are becoming increasingly apparent.
In 2019, the life expectancy of women in communities with the highest and lowest life expectancies dropped by about 20 years.
An area in Camden, north London, had a life expectancy of 95.4 years, compared to a parish in Leeds that would allow a woman to live up to 75 years.
For men, the gap was around 27 years. A man who lived in Kensington and Chelsea, also in London, would live to be 95 years old.
In part of Blackpool, the life expectancy for men was 68.
“In the UK it has always been felt that everyone’s health is improving, if not at the same rate. These data show that longevity has been deteriorating in much of England for years, ”said Professor Majid Ezzati, lead author of the study.
“A decline in life expectancy was rare in affluent countries like the UK and happened when there were major adversities such as wars and pandemics.”
He added, “That such declines can be seen in ‘normal times’ prior to the pandemic is alarming and signals continued political failures in tackling poverty and providing adequate social assistance and health care.”