Immigration to the UK is leading to larger families, according to analysis of new statistics from the EU agency Eurostat.
There are now more families in the UK with four or more children than at any point in the last four decades. The European figures, show that 9.5 per cent of children born in the UK in 2013 had at least three brothers and sister, up from just 5.3 per cent four years earlier.
The UK figure is almost double the average across the 31 European states in the study and was second only to Finland. The overall trend, however, in the UK is for women to have fewer children. By age 45, the average British woman has 1.9 children, down from 2.35 in 1985.
According to Ann Buchanan, professor of social work at Oxford University, the trend for more four children-plus families in the UK is being fuelled by immigration – and the very wealthy who can afford to take time off work to raise larger families.
She said women from countries such as India and Bangladesh were bringing a culture of having larger families to the UK when they settled here. The trend tends to lessen once a family has been in the UK for a number of years and subsequent generations have smaller families.
The figures from the 2011 census showed that for women born in Afghanistan but now living in the UK, the average family size stood at 4.25 children, while women born in Pakistan had an average of 3.82 children. Women born in Eastern European countries had families with an average of 2.19 children. UK-born mothers had an average of 1.79 children and mothers from Australia and New Zealand living in the UK had just 1.38.