The fall in the number of births in the island shows no signs of coming to an end.

For a 10th consecutive year, the number of babies being born has fallen with just 660 births notified to the general registry last year - down from 710 in 2019.

Births are now at the lowest level in the island for more than 50 years, according to Paul Craine, author of the Manx Population Atlas.

Meanwhile, number of deaths last year, at 938, is the highest figure this century.

Twenty-five of these (2.7%) were directly related to the coronavirus pandemic - and perhaps even more were related indirectly, said Mr Craine.

Deaths exceeded births last year by 278 giving the largest natural population decline in the island since the 1980s.

Both 2009 and 2010 saw the number of births in the Isle of Man exceed 1,000. Between 2010 and 2020 the number of births fell by an extraordinary 35.5%, he said.

The decline between 2019 and 2020 was more than 7% in a single year - and it looks as though the trend of fewer births may be set to continue.

The impact of Covid-19 on births in the Isle of Man is unlikely to be showing in the 2020 data.

The downward trend in births in recent years is not something restricted to the Isle of Man.

In the Isle of Man, the fertility rate was 1.69 in 2016 and is falling. A stable rate is 2.1 children per couple.

There is evidence that fewer women are having subsequent children after a previous child.

But why have births been falling faster in the Isle of Man over the past decade than in the UK and most other parts of the world? One major cause of this is the net emigration of young adults.

Between the censuses of 2011 and 2016, emigration from the Isle of Man was greater than immigration in every age group.

Fewer young women having fewer children is a major factor in the island’s declining births.

Mr Craine said: ’Like many small island economies we are vulnerable to the net emigration of young adults and to population ageing.

’How far do the number of births on the Isle of Man have to drop before we have the will to take strategic action?’