FEWER babies are being born to Oxford mums, with experts claiming the drop could be down to house prices and the number of educated women living in the city.

Latest Government figures showed the city had the fourth lowest number of births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 in the UK in 2014, with 43.9.

Only the City of London, Camden and Canterbury were lower.

The statistics also show a decline over the past few years, with the rate dropping from 48.4 in 2012 to 46.3 in 2013.

Co-director of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing Dr George Leeson said Oxford’s high house prices could be having an impact on people deciding whether to have children.

He said: “Oxford is one of the most expensive places to live in the country.

“There is evidence from Italy that shows this affects young people wanting to have children.

“Young people are staying at home longer or even returning home because buying a house is simply not an option.

“While living at home with your parents does not completely rule out having children, it reduces the likelihood significantly.”

Dr Leeson said this could be replicated in the city, after it was revealed Oxford was now the least affordable place to live in the country when average wages were compared to house prices.

Oxford’s women are also waiting until they are older to have children, according to the statistics.

The number of births from women between the ages of 20 to 24 and 25 to 29 fell well below the national average, but those between 30 and 44 were significantly higher.

Dr Leeson said the city’s low birth rate meant there were not enough babies being born to supplement those who died.

But he added migration into the city had not just maintained but increased population levels, with non-UK mothers making up just under half of all births, 48.5 per cent, in Oxford in 2014 Professor of Maternal and Child Population Health Marian Knight put forward two explanations for the city’s low rate.

She said: “Firstly, women who are educated to higher levels tend to have fewer children and also have children later.

“As Oxford will have a higher proportion of women educated to that level, it is likely to have a lower birth rate.”

She added: “The second possible explanation relates to the large student population, who will make up a substantial proportion of the population of women aged 15 to 44, more than in many other areas. “As they will not yet be planning children, it is likely that the birth rate will appear lower than other areas.”

Professor of Demography at Oxford University David Coleman agreed the number of students would lead to an overall low birth rate.