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Ireland's birthrate has dropped below replacement level, new figures have revealed.
The figures, published yesterday in the Central Statistics Office Statistical Yearbook, show that overall, the total fertility rate, the TPFR, which is the number of children born per woman of child-bearing age fell to 2.01 from 2.04 in 2011.
This is just below 2.1, which is considered to be the rate at which a country replaces its population.
The figures also show that over a third of all births last year were outside marriage. Thirty five percent, or 25,344 of the 72,225 registered births in 2012 were outside marriage.
In 2011, 33.7pc of all births were outside marriage. In 2004, the comparable figure was 31.9.
A wealth of research suggests that children raised outside marriage fare worse emotionally, economically and educationally.
There were 21,245 marriages registered in 2012 compared with 19,879 in 2011, a rate of 4.6 per thousand population.
The figures also showed that almost a third, 29.1pc, of all marriages in 2010, the last year for which figures are available, were civil marriages.
There were 2,892 divorces in 2012, a slight rise on the 2011 figure of 2,819.