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Ireland has EU's highest birth rate

Ireland had both the highest birth rate and the lowest death rate in the European Union in 2009, according to new figures from Eurostat.

Overall, Ireland recorded the highest natural growth in population among member states, but was also responsible for the biggest net outflow of people, the Irish Times reports.

The birthrate in Ireland was 16.8 children born per 1,000 inhabitants in 2009, compared to an EU average of 10.7. Britain, which had the second highest EU birthrate, was at 12.8 children per 1,000 people.

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Ireland also had the lowest death rate in Ireland at just 6.6 per 1,000 inhabitants, as against an EU average of 9.7. The highest death rates in the European Union were recorded in Bulgaria, Latvia, Hungary and Lithuania.

The highest natural growth of the population was in Ireland at 10.2 per cent, well ahead of Cyprus on 5.5 per cent, France at 4.3 per cent and Luxembourg at 4 per cent.

However, Ireland also recorded the highest net outflow of population at 9 per cent, almost twice that of Lithuania, which recorded the second highest net outflow.

Net outflow figures include people emigrating from Ireland as well as those from other countries who are returning home after having lived here for a period of time.

The largest relative increases in terms of population were in Luxembourg, Sweden and Slovenia.

The population of the European Union as a whole rose by 1.4 million in 2009, an annual rate of 2.7 per 1,000 inhabitants, due to a natural increase of 0.5 million and net migration of 0.9 million.

Overall, there were 501.1 million people living in the EU as of Jan. 1, 2010, compared to 499.7 million a year earlier.

A total of 5.4 million children were born in the EU last year. The crude birth rate was 10.7 per 1,000 people. In addition, there were 4.8 million deaths registered in the EU last year, the crude death rate was 9.7 per 1,000 inhabitants.

In the euro zone, the population rose by 0.9 million from 328.6 million to 329.5 million.