Health Fact Sheets
Trends in Canadian births, 1992 to 2012

Release date: February 10, 2016

There were 381,869 live births in 2012, of which 196,446 (51.4%) were males and 185,423 (48.6%) were females (Chart 1). The vast majority (96.8%) of live births in Canada were single births, down from 97.9% in 1992.Note 1 Conversely, multiple births accounted for a greater proportion of live births in 2012 than they did in 1992 (3.2% compared to 2.1%). In general, the percentage of live births that are multiple births has gradually increased since 1992, whereas the percentage of live births that were single births decreased over this twenty-one year period.

Chart 1 Live births, by sex, Canada, 1992 to 2012
Description for Chart 1

The title of the graph is "Chart 1 Live births, by sex, Canada, 1992 to 2012 ."
This is a column stacked chart.
There are in total 21 categories in the horizontal axis. The vertical axis starts at 0 and ends at 450,000 with ticks every 50,000 points.
There are 2 series in this graph.
The vertical axis is "number of live births."
The units of the horizontal axis are years from 1992 to 2012.
The title of series 1 is "Male live births."
The minimum value is 168,387 occurring in 2000.
The maximum value is 204,379 occurring in 1992.
The title of series 2 is "Female live births."
The minimum value is 159,495 occurring in 2000.
The maximum value is 194,264 occurring in 1992.

Data table for Chart 1
Years Male live births Female live births
1992 204,379 194,264
1993 199,744 188,650
1994 198,174 186,940
1995 193,755 184,261
1996 188,216 177,984
1997 178,974 169,624
1998 175,258 167,160
1999 173,059 164,190
2000 168,387 159,495
2001 171,153 162,591
2002 168,842 159,960
2003 171,691 163,511
2004 173,154 163,918
2005 175,376 166,800
2006 182,240 172,377
2007 188,337 179,527
2008 193,755 184,131
2009 195,445 185,418
2010 193,465 183,748
2011 193,587 184,049
2012 196,446 185,423

In 2012, more than one-third of all live births (37.1%) were born to mothers residing in Ontario, nearly one-quarter (23.3%) in Quebec, 13.8% in Alberta, and 11.5% to mothers living in British Columbia (Table 1). Combined, these four provinces accounted for 85.7% of all live births with 86.1% of the country’s population. The remaining provinces and territories accounted for 14.3% of all live births in Canada. Despite having a smaller population, Alberta surpassed British Columbia in terms of live births in 2004 and has continued this trend through to 2012.

Table 1
Proportionate shares of Canada's live births and overall population, by province and territory, 2012
Table summary
This table displays the results of Proportionate shares of Canada's live births and overall population. The information is grouped by Provinces and territories (appearing as row headers), Live births in 2012, Share of Canada's 2012 live births and Share of Canada's 2012 population, calculated using number and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Provinces and territories Live births in 2012 Share of Canada's 2012 live births Share of Canada's 2012 population
number percent percent
Ontario 141,597 37.1 38.6
Quebec 88,929 23.3 23.3
Alberta 52,634 13.8 11.2
British Columbia 44,008 11.5 13.1
Manitoba 16,358 4.3 3.6
Saskatchewan 14,850 3.9 3.1
Nova Scotia 8,774 2.3 2.7
New Brunswick 7,059 1.8 2.2
Newfoundland and Labrador 4,382 1.1 1.5
Prince Edward Island 1,312 0.3 0.4
Nunavut 843 0.2 0.1
Northwest Territories 688 0.2 0.1
Yukon 435 0.1 0.1

Among all live births in Canada, the average age of mothers at time of delivery was 29.8 years in 2012, up from 29.0 in 2002 and 27.9 in 1992.Note 2 Only British Columbia (30.5 years), Ontario (30.3 years), Yukon (29.9 years) and Quebec (29.8 years) had average ages higher than or equal to the national average in 2012. Nunavut had the lowest average age (24.9 years), followed by Saskatchewan (27.9 years), New Brunswick (28.1 years), Northwest Territories (28.2 years) and Manitoba (28.3 Years). The average age of mothers in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Alberta ranged from 28.7 to 29.4 years, respectively.

Increasing share of live births among women 30 years and older

The vast majority of babies were born to mothers 20 to 39 years old. Excluding cases where age of mother was unknown, 93.1% of all Canadian live births in 2012 were born to mothers aged 20 to 39 years, up slightly from 92.6% in 2002 and 92.7% in 1992. The proportion of live births born to mothers 30 to 49 years old has notably increased since 1992. Conversely, the share of live births born to mothers younger than 30 years of age markedly decreased during this period (Chart 2). Over one-half (53.1%) of all live births in 2012 were born to mothers between 30 and 49 years old, up from 47.4% in 2002 and 37.9% in 1992. Similarly, 3.5% of all live births in 2012 were born to mothers between 40 and 49, compared with 2.6% in 2002 and 1.2% in 1992.

Less than one-half (46.9%) of all live births in 2012 were born to mothers younger than 30 years of age, compared to over one-half (52.6%) in 2002 and nearly two-thirds (62.1%) in 1992. The percentage of live births born to mothers younger than 20 also decreased over this period (6.1% in 1992, 4.7% in 2002, and 3.4% in 2012).

Chart 2 Live births, by age group of mother, Canada, 1992, 2002, and 2012
Description for Chart 2

The title of the graph is "Chart 2 Live births, by age group of mother, Canada, 1992, 2002, and 2012 ."
This is a column clustered chart.
There are in total 6 categories in the horizontal axis. The vertical axis starts at 0 and ends at 40 with ticks every 5 points.
There are 3 series in this graph.
The vertical axis is "percent."
The horizontal axis is "Age group of mother (years)."
The title of series 1 is "1992."
The minimum value is 1.2 and it corresponds to "40 to 49."
The maximum value is 36.5 and it corresponds to "25 to 29."
The title of series 2 is "2002."
The minimum value is 2.6 and it corresponds to "40 to 49."
The maximum value is 30.6 and it corresponds to "25 to 29 and 30 to 34."
The title of series 3 is "2012."
The minimum value is 3.4 and it corresponds to "Under 20."
The maximum value is 33.5 and it corresponds to "30 to 34."

Data table for Chart 2
  1992 2002 2012
Under 20 6.1 4.7 3.4
20 to 24 19.5 17.3 13.7
25 to 29 36.5 30.6 29.9
30 to 34 27.9 30.6 33.5
35 to 39 8.8 14.1 16.1
40 to 49 1.2 2.6 3.5

Among all age groups, women aged 30 to 34 years recorded the most live births in Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon in 2012.Note 3 In Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories, it was mothers 25 to 29 years old that had the most babies, while Nunavut had the highest number of its live births born to women 20 to 24 years old.

Women delaying birth of first child

The last two decades have shown a tendency for women to delay having their first child. Between 1992 and 2012, the proportion of all first births born to women 30 to 49 years old substantially increased. Excluding cases where age of mother was not stated, mothers aged 30 to 34 accounted for 28.6% of first-born live births in 2012, up from 19.3% in 1992 (Chart 3). Similarly, mothers aged 35 to 39 years increased their share of first births from 4.9% in 1992 to 10.4% in 2012 and mothers aged 40 to 49 increased their share of first births from 0.6% to 2.2%. Conversely, the share of first births born to women under 30 years notably decreased during the last twenty-one years. The largest decrease occurred among mothers aged 20 to 24 who accounted for 26.1% of all first births in 1992 and 18.5% in 2012. Mothers aged 25 to 29 years accounted for 37.5% of all first births in 1992, but 33.7% in 2012, while mothers younger than 20 years decreased from 11.6% in 1992 to only 6.6% in 2012.

Chart 3 First-born live births, by age group of mother, Canada, 1992, 2002, and 2012
Description for Chart 3

The title of the graph is "Chart 3 First-born live births, by age group of mother, Canada, 1992, 2002, and 2012 ."
This is a column clustered chart.
There are in total 6 categories in the horizontal axis. The vertical axis starts at 0 and ends at 40 with ticks every 5 points.
There are 3 series in this graph.
The vertical axis is "percent."
The horizontal axis is "Age group of mother (years)."
The title of series 1 is "1992."
The minimum value is 0.6 and it corresponds to "40 to 49."
The maximum value is 37.5 and it corresponds to "25 to 29."
The title of series 2 is "2002."
The minimum value is 1.4 and it corresponds to "40 to 49."
The maximum value is 33.1 and it corresponds to "25 to 29."
The title of series 3 is "2012."
The minimum value is 2.2 and it corresponds to "40 to 49."
The maximum value is 33.7 and it corresponds to "25 to 29."

Data table for Chart 3
  1992 2002 2012
Under 20 11.6 9.0 6.6
20 to 24 26.1 23.2 18.5
25 to 29 37.5 33.1 33.7
30 to 34 19.3 24.8 28.6
35 to 39 4.9 8.5 10.4
40 to 49 0.6 1.4 2.2

In 2012, 43.7% of all live births were the mothers’ first live birth (first born), 35.4% were second births, 13.5% were third births, 4.5% were fourth births, 1.5% were fifth births, and 1.3% were to mothers having their sixth or higher live birth.Note 4 These proportions have been have been very consistent annually over the last twenty-one years.

Data

Additional data on Canadian births and characteristics of mothers are available in CANSIM tables 102-4501 to 102-4513.

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