The statistics show the number of live births and late foetal births in a year, total fertility, birth rates, age at time of giving birth, the median age, reproduction rate.



About the statistics


Name and topic

Name: Births
Topic: Population

Responsible division

Division for Population Statistics

Definitions of the main concepts and variables

Residents : Who is counted as a resident of Norway and where in Norway a person is counted as a resident is stipulated in the Population Registration Act of 16 January 1970. The regulations of the act were amended effective 1 February 1980.

Birth rates: Live births during a period divided by women of an age group, usually one-year and five-year age groups. The period is usually one year. For five-year periods the tables are published with the average for the five-year period, e.g., age-specific fertility rates are live births per 1 000 women of an age group.

Age at time of giving birth: Observed age at time of giving birth is the average age of the mother based on actual births during the period. Hypothetical age at time of giving birth is the average age of the mother/father, which is not affected by variations in the size of the cohorts.

The median age is the age in which half of the women were younger or equal to this age. Starting in 1999 information about the age of the father at the time of the child's birth was included for the first time.

Reproduction rate: Gross reproduction rate is the average number of girls born alive who under the prevailing fertility conditions are born to a woman who survives her entire reproductive period (15 to 44 years). This reproduction rate does not take into consideration the fact that some women die before or during their reproductive period.

Net reproduction rate corresponds to gross reproduction rate, but also takes current mortality factors into consideration.

Overall fertility rate: Average number of babies born alive per woman in the course of her life, under the provision that the fertility pattern in the period applies to the woman's entire reproductive period (15-49 years) and that deaths do not occur. The birth rate is determined by the number of women of reproductive age and their fertility.

Age: Age is usually the mother's age in years at the time of the birth of the child. Mother's age at the end of the year is used in the table that shows the average number of live births per woman within selected ages, for cohorts of women from 1850 to 1975.

Stillbirths: Foetuses born without signs of life after least 28 weeks gestation.

Live births: A live birth is defined as a foetus that shows signs of life at birth.

Marital status (applies to the variable, marital status of mother/father): After the Act on Registered Partnerships for Homosexual Couples became law on 1 August 1993, the following marital status divisions apply: Unmarried, married, widow/widower, divorced, separated, registered partner, separated partner, divorced partner and surviving partner. Before 1994 the five former divisions applied.

From 2001, cohabitating parents are included in the statistics. Earlier statistics have only had the official values; e.g. separated between in wedlock or not in wedlock. The new variable has three values: in wedlock, cohabitating parents and single parents. To fulfil the criteria for cohabitating parents the parents must have the same address at the date of birth or in the following three months after birth.

Standard classifications


Administrative information

Regional level


Frequency and timeliness

Final figures annually

International reporting

UN. Eurostat


Files at the individual level that are processed and stored long-term.


Background and purpose

The statistics show the number of live births and still births in a year.

Statistics Norway has national figures dating back to 1735. Until 1865 the clergy submitted only summary records of births. In 1866 the clergy were mandated to submit data in the form of transcripts of church records. Starting in 1916 civil registration of births by the clergy was introduced. The reporting duty applies both to live births (babies that show signs of life at birth) and stillbirths. Since 1968 reports of births have been sent from the maternity ward (midwife/doctor) to the population registry in the mother's municipality of residence. In 1983 the civil registration of births was turned over to the population registry.

Users and applications

Public administration, health-care system, politicians, the media, schools and research institutes involved in studying demographics and living conditions.

Equal treatment of users

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no at 08 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given inthe Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equally.

Coherence with other statistics

The birth statistics are included in the population accounts as one of the components of understanding changes in the population.

Legal authority

Statistics Act §§2-1, 2-2, 3-2.

EEA reference




The statistics cover live births and still births where the mother or the father resides in Norway. All live births and still births after 28 weeks gestation must be reported. Reports of children born abroad to mothers who are residents of Norway are included to the extent they are reported.

From 2002, the statistics on births include reports of births in the period 1/1-n to 31/1-n+1. They also include events reported too late for earlier years. This only applies to a few.

Data sources and sampling

Birth statistics are based on population register data. The figures from 1995 and later are based on the Central Population Register (DSF) at the Directorate of Taxes, while the figures for 1968-1994 are taken from its predecessor, the National Population Register (DSP). The register was built up from 1964 to 1966 on the basis of the 1960 census, at the same time as the 11-digit national identity number was introduced as identification. The Office of the National Registrar, which administrates the register, was transferred in 1991 from Statistics Norway to the Directorate of Taxes.

Reports of births are submitted by the hospital or the person attending the birth to the population registry in the mother's municipality of residence.

Updating of the Central Population Register is done in part by the local population registries, which are connected to the DSF via terminals, and in part by the Directorate of Taxes. The basis of the statistics on changes in the population is electronic copies to Statistics Norway of all such register updates. The reports are also used to update a separate Statistics Norway population database kept for statistical purposes, which forms the basis for the statistics on the composition of the population.


Collection of data, editing and estimations

Collection of data

Not relevant.

Control and revision

In addition to the checks done by the DSF, Statistics Norway performs controls for statistical purposes.

The marital status variable is based on residence data and changes therein during the period from birth and the following three months. Because we use movements and immigrations in the statistical year, for children born in October this relates to the following two months and one month for children born in November. For children born in December there is no subsequent data to examine. The address details of the father and the mother are linked to the child at the date of birth and three months after, and controlled for deviations. To be assigned cohabiting status, the parents have to be resident at the same address either at the date of birth or during the three months after the birth.

Seasonal adjustment

Not relevant


If a table consists zero, one or two units and disclosing these units can lead to identification of individuals, the figure is rounded up or left empty.

Comparability over time and space

Comparability over time is good. Mergers, divisions or redrawing of borders of regional units during the period should be kept in mind if comparisons are to be made at regional levels over time.

In 1999 the scope of the births that are included was changed, leading to an insignificant increase with no impact at all on comparability.

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

Measurement and processing errors

Some errors made during the collecting and processing of the data are unavoidable and include coding, revision and data processing errors etc. Extensive efforts have been made to minimize these errors, and we regard these types of errors to be relatively insignificant.

Non-response errors

Not relevant.

Sampling errors

Not relevant.

Other sources of error

Register errors: The quality of the birth reports is generally very good and there is very little delay in the reporting process.


Not relevant