Nearly 60 per cent of all births in Limerick city in the third quarter of last year were outside marriage, according to the latest Vital Statistics figures.
Nationally, 33.8 per cent of all births were outside marriage, according to the figures, compiled by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). This constituted a rise of 1.4 per cent on the same figure in 2009.
However, in Limerick, 58 per cent of births in the city were to unmarried mothers, a huge increase, 12 per cent, on the same figure in 2009, when 46 per cent of all births in the city were out-of-wedlock.
The figures show that the rate of unmarried births in Limerick city grew more than six times faster there than the national average.
Figures from the first quarter of 2010 showed that 62 percent of births in Limerick city were outside marriage, up from 53 percent in the same quarter in 2009.
According to the data, there were 173 births in the city July and September last year and 100 of these were to unmarried mothers, while 73 were to mothers who were married. Twenty one per cent of all births were to unmarried parents living at the same address.
Data shows that marriage, on average, provides children with far more stability than cohabitation. According to the British Millennium Cohort Study, only 10 per cent of married couples will have broken up by the time their child is five, compared with 25 per cent of cohabiting couples.
Only 35 per cent of British children born into a cohabiting union will live with both parents throughout their childhood, compared with 70 per cent born to married couples.
In addition, the average length in Britain of a marriage that ends in divorce is 11.5 years compared with just two years for a live-in relationship. Irish data also shows that only 25 per cent of cohabiting couples are still cohabiting after seven years. The result have either broken up or married.
Overall, there were 19,171 births registered in the third quarter of 2010, 118 lower than the corresponding total for the 3rd quarter 3 in 2009. Of these, 6,481 births were registered as outside marriage.
The figures showed that 18.3 per cent of all births were to unmarried parents living at the same address, an increase of 1.3 per cent on the corresponding figure from 2009.
The lowest percentage of births outside marriage was in both Dun Laoghaire Rathdown and Galway County at 25 per cent.
A total of 7,815 births (41 per cent) were to first time mothers in quarter 3 of 2010. Second time mothers had 6,392 births (33.5 per cent). First births in the third quarter of 2009 and 2005 accounted for 42.6 per cent and 40.7 per cent of all births respectively.
The average age of mothers for births registered in quarter 3 2010 was 31.4 years, 0.2 years more than the corresponding figure in quarter 3 2009, 0.5 years more than in quarter 3 2005, and 1.1 years more than in quarter 3 2001. The average age of mothers having their first child in quarter 3 2010 was 29.4 years.