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3301.0 - Births, Australia, 2008 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/11/2009   
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EXPLANATORY NOTES


INTRODUCTION

1 This publication contains statistics for births and fertility in Australia. Detailed information can be obtained from data cubes (in Microsoft Excel format) available for download from the ABS website.

2 A glossary is provided detailing definitions of terminology used. Also provided is a list of abbreviations.


SCOPE AND COVERAGE

3 The statistics in this publication relate to the number of births registered during the calendar year shown, unless otherwise stated.


Scope of births statistics

4 The ABS Birth Registrations collection includes all births that occurred and were registered in Australia, including births to mothers whose place of usual residence is overseas.

5 The scope of the statistics includes:

  • all births that are live born and have not been previously registered. A live birth is delivery of a child, irrespective of duration of pregnancy, who, after being born, breathes or shows any evidence of life such as heartbeat;
  • births to temporary visitors to Australia (including visitors from Norfolk Island);
  • births occurring within Australian Territorial waters;
  • births occurring in transit (births on ships or planes) if registered in the state of 'next port of call';
  • births to Australian nationals employed overseas at Australian legations and consular offices (for example, children born overseas to Australian diplomats or their families); and
  • births that occurred in earlier years that have not previously been registered (late registrations).

6 The scope of the statistics exclude:
  • still births/fetal deaths (these are accounted for in perinatal death statistics published in Perinatal Deaths, Australia, cat. no. 3304.0, and previously, Causes of Death, Australia, cat. no. 3303.0);
  • adoptions, sex changes, legitimations and corrections;
  • births to foreign diplomatic staff; and
  • births occurring on Norfolk Island.

7 Up to and including the 2006 issue of Births, Australia (cat. no. 3301.0), the scope for each reference year of the Birth Registrations collection included:
  • all births registered in Australia for the reference year and received by ABS in the reference year;
  • births registered during the two years prior to the reference year but not received by ABS until the reference year; and
  • births registered in the reference year and received by ABS in the first quarter of the subsequent year.

8 For example, birth records received by ABS during the March quarter 2007 which were initially registered in 2006 (but not fully completed until 2007) were assigned to the 2007 reference year. Any registrations relating to 2006 which were received by ABS after the end of the March quarter 2007 were assigned to the 2007 reference year.

9 Under these rules, it was possible for a birth registration to not be recorded in the collection. For 2007 onwards, the scope of the Birth Registrations collection has been reviewed and amended. The scope includes:
  • all births registered in Australia for the reference year and received by ABS in the reference year;
  • births registered in the years prior to the reference year but not received by ABS until the reference year or the first quarter of the subsequent year, provided that these records have not been included in any statistics from earlier periods; and
  • births registered in the reference year and received by ABS in the first quarter of the subsequent year.


Coverage of births statistics

10 Ideally, for compiling annual time series, the number of events (births) should be recorded as all those occurring within a given reference period such as a calendar year. Due to lags in registration of births and the provision of that information to ABS from state/territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages, data in this publication are presented on a year of registration basis.

11 In effect there are three dates attributable to each birth registration:
  • the date of occurrence (of the birth);
  • the date of registration or inclusion on the state/territory register; and
  • the month in which the registered event is provided to the ABS.

12 Data in this publication are presented according to date of registration, unless otherwise stated. The registration date differs between states and territories, and should be taken into account when analysing birth statistics:
  • for births registered in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, the birth registration date is the date at which the record is entered into the registration processing system;
  • for births registered in South Australia, preliminary and final registration dates are allocated. Where a record requires further information a preliminary date is assigned. Once all data is finalised, a final registration date is assigned to the birth record which is provided to the ABS as the registration date;
  • for births registered in Queensland, the registration date is the date at which all data on the birth record is finalised. This may be before the birth is entered into the registration system;
  • for births registered in the Northern Territory, the registration date is the date at which the record is entered into the registration system. For birth records not received by the Registrar within 60 days of the birth, the Registrar will register the child as 'unnamed' and not finalised; and
  • for births registered in Tasmania, a date is allocated when the birth record is entered into the registration system. The ABS receives an 'insertion' date which is the date when any information relating to the birth is entered into the registration system.


CLASSIFICATIONS

Nuptiality

13 Nuptiality relates to the registered marital status of the parent(s) of the child at the time of birth. Confinements and births are classified as:
  • nuptial where the father registered was married to the mother at the time of the child's birth, or where the husband died during pregnancy. Confinements and births of Indigenous mothers considered to be tribally married are classified as nuptial; and
  • exnuptial where the parents were not in a registered marriage at the time of the child's birth, irrespective of whether the parents were living together at the time of the birth.

14 Exnuptial births and confinements are further classified as paternity acknowledged (where the father signed the birth registration form) or paternity not acknowledged (where the father did not sign the form).


Australian Standard Geographical Classification

15 The Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) is a hierarchical classification system consisting of six interrelated classification structures. The ASGC provides a common framework of statistical geography and thereby enables the production of statistics which are comparable and can be spatially integrated.

16 For further information refer to Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) (cat. no. 1216.0).


Standard Australian Classification of Countries

17 The Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) (Second Edition) groups neighbouring countries into progressively broader geographical areas on the basis of their similarity in terms of social, cultural, economic and political characteristics. The SACC (Second Edition) is the revised edition of the Australian Standard Classification of Countries for Social Statistics (ASCCSS) and includes concordances between the SACC (First Edition) and the SACC (Second Edition).

18 For further information refer to Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), Second Edition (cat. no. 1269.0).


DATA SOURCES

19 Registration of births is the responsibility of state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages and is based on data provided on an information form completed by the parent(s) of the child. This form is the basis of the data provided to the ABS by the Registrars, for compilation into aggregate statistics in this publication. Most data items are collected in all states and territories and therefore statistics at the national level are available for most characteristics. Some states collect additional information.

20 Hospitals and birth clinics notify state and territory registries of recent births on a regular basis. For those births known to a registry that have not been registered within a prescribed time period, a reminder letter is sent to the parent(s) of the child to follow-up the birth registration.


States and territories

21 As a result of an amendment made in 1992 to section 17(a) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1973 (Cwlth) the Indian Ocean territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands have been included as part of geographic Australia, hence another category of the state and territory classification has been created. This category is known as 'Other Territories' and includes Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Jervis Bay Territory.

22 Prior to 1993 births to mothers usually resident in Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands were included with Off-Shore Areas and Migratory in Western Australia, while births to mothers usually resident in Jervis Bay Territory were included with the Australian Capital Territory. In 2008 there were 30 births to mothers usually resident in Jervis Bay Territory, Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

23 Statistics for states and territories have been compiled and presented in respect of the state or territory of usual residence of the mother, except where otherwise stated. In the following table data are presented on a state or territory of registration basis. Births which took place outside Australia are excluded from the statistics. Births to mothers who were usual residents of Australia's Other Territories (Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Jervis Bay Territory) are registered in other Australian states.

Births, State or territory of usual residence of mother and state or territory of registration - 2008

State or territory of registration
State or territory of usual residence
NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT
ACT
Total

New South Wales
92 025
1 091
572
39
34
np
np
918
94 684
Victoria
98
70 892
60
78
28
8
3
8
71 175
Queensland
917
75
62 077
13
35
8
np
np
63 132
South Australia
24
37
10
20 107
np
np
29
-
20 229
Western Australia
39
25
26
12
31 713
np
25
np
31 850
Tasmania
14
23
11
np
np
6 724
np
-
6 775
Northern Territory
25
13
36
31
29
-
3 808
-
3 942
Australian Capital Territory
70
9
4
np
-
np
-
4 718
4 804
Other Territories
5
-
-
-
25
-
-
-
30
Australia
93 217
72 165
62 796
20 282
31 886
6 752
3 875
5 648
296 621

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated


24 In 2008 there were 429 births to women who usually lived overseas. These have been included in this publication with state or territory of usual residence classified according to the state or territory in which the birth was registered.

Births, Babies born in Australia to non-resident mothers

State or territory of registration
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008

New South Wales
338
398
380
281
308
324
341
Victoria
22
24
20
23
21
17
20
Queensland
116
92
61
38
41
86
42
South Australia
4
5
9
-
-
3
3
Western Australia
16
24
18
8
13
21
18
Tasmania
4
5
-
3
-
-
-
Northern Territory
6
5
3
5
4
np
np
Australian Capital Territory
5
4
-
7
3
np
np
Australia
511
557
491
364
391
456
429

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated



Sub-state/territory fertility rates

25 Age-specific and total fertility rates for sub-state/territory regions (for example, Statistical Divisions) presented in this publication are calculated as average rates over three years ending in the reference year. Rates for Australia and the states and territories in all other tables are based on single years of birth registrations data.


DATA QUALITY

26 In compiling births statistics, the ABS employs a variety of measures to improve the quality of the births collection. While every opportunity is undertaken to ensure that the highest quality of statistics are provided, the following is a list of known issues associated with the quality of births statistics included in this publication.


Interval between occurrence and registration of births

27 For the most part, statistics in this publication refer to births registered during the calendar year shown. There is usually an interval between the occurrence and registration of a birth (referred to as a registration 'lag'), and as a result, some births occurring in one year are not registered until the following year or even later. This can be caused by either a delay by the parent(s) in submitting a completed form to the registry, or a delay by the registry in processing the birth.

YEAR OF OCCURRENCE OF BIRTHS REGISTERED IN 2008

2002 and earlier
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
State or territory of registration
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

New South Wales
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.2
0.2
9.7
89.7
Victoria
0.4
0.2
0.2
0.3
0.5
9.7
88.8
Queensland
2.1
0.6
0.9
0.6
1.1
13.2
81.3
South Australia
1.2
0.1
0.2
0.2
0.5
7.0
90.9
Western Australia
1.3
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.9
9.2
87.7
Tasmania
2.0
-
-
-
0.1
3.4
94.4
Northern Territory
0.4
-
-
-
0.1
6.2
93.3
Australian Capital Territory
0.1
0.2
0.2
0.1
0.2
7.8
91.3
Australia
0.8
0.2
0.3
0.3
0.6
10.0
87.8

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)


28 Of the 296,600 births registered in 2008, 87.8% occurred in 2008, while 10.0% occurred in 2007 and the remainder (2.3%) occurred in 2006 or earlier years.


Recent registration lags in Queensland

29 As a result of recent changes in the timeliness of registration of births in Queensland, care should be taken when interpreting changes in Queensland births between 2005 and 2008. In the table below, 13.2% of the 62,800 births registered in Queensland in 2008 occurred in 2007. This proportion, although lower than 2006 and 2007 (14.8% and 16.2% respectively), is still relatively high, indicating that the higher total number of births registered in Queensland in 2008 is to some extent due to changes in procedures for processing birth registrations by the Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, as well as increases in the absolute number of registrations processed in 2008.

Births registered in Queensland, Year of registration by year of birth

Year of registration
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
Year of birth
%
%
%
%
%
%

2002 and earlier
14.8
4.0
2.9
2.4
1.9
2.1
2003
85.2
11.3
1.0
0.7
0.6
0.6
2004
-
84.7
10.7
0.8
0.5
0.9
2005
-
-
85.4
14.8
1.1
0.6
2006
-
-
-
81.3
16.2
1.1
2007
-
-
-
-
79.7
13.2
2008
-
-
-
-
-
81.3

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)



Indigenous births and fertility rates

30 In this publication the term Indigenous is used to refer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. In the Birth Registrations collection, the Indigenous status of a birth is derived from the Indigenous status of the parent(s).

31 There are several data collection forms on which people are asked to state whether they are of Indigenous origin. Due to a number of factors, results collated from these forms are not always consistent. The way in which a person identifies, or is identified, as Indigenous on a specific form can change over time leading to unexpected changes in Indigenous statistics. Responses to Indigenous status questions can be influenced by a range of factors, including the perception of how information will be used, education programs about identifying as Indigenous, who completes the question on behalf of others, and emotional reaction to identifying as Indigenous. The data presented may therefore underestimate the level of Indigenous births and fertility in Australia. Lags in registrations may also affect reliability of measures of Indigenous fertility. Caution should be exercised when interpreting Indigenous births and fertility data presented in this publication, especially with regard to year-to-year changes.

32 Chapter 3 reports on the number and characteristics of Indigenous births and fertility rates in each state and territory, excluding the Australian Capital Territory and Other Territories. Indigenous data for the Australian Capital Territory and Other Territories are not analysed separately due to small numbers but are included in totals for Australia. Numbers of Indigenous births for the Australian Capital Territory are published in Table 2.20 and data cube Table 1: Births, Summary, Australia, States and territories.

33 The populations used to calculate Indigenous fertility rates for 1996 to 2008 are the experimental estimates and projections of the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female population aged 15-49 years, based on results of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. For more information see Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 1991 to 2021 (cat. no. 3238.0).

34 Estimates of annual numbers of Indigenous births in Australia are available from two collections:
  • ABS Birth Registrations: this publication is based on the registration of births with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in each state and territory; and
  • the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) National Perinatal Statistics Unit perinatal statistics series: these data are primarily about babies born in hospitals and their mothers (see Appendix: Differences Between Collections for more information).

35 In addition to these collections, it is possible to derive indirect estimates and projections of numbers of Indigenous births, based on 2006 census-based Indigenous population estimates:
  • for 30 June 1991 to 30 June 2005, estimates of the Indigenous population were derived from experimental Indigenous resident population as at 30 June 2006 using a reverse survival technique based on experimental Indigenous life tables (see Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 1991 to 2021, cat. no. 3238.0). Indirect estimates of Indigenous births can then be derived using the number of Indigenous children aged 0 at 30 June of each year; and
  • for 30 June 2007 to 30 June 2021, projections of the Indigenous population were derived from experimental Indigenous resident population as at 30 June 2006 using assumptions on future levels of Indigenous fertility, mortality and migration. Numbers of projected Indigenous births were derived by applying assumed fertility rates to the Indigenous female population aged 15-49 years at 30 June of each year (see Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 1991 to 2021, cat. no. 3238.0).


Tasmanian birth registrations

36 As required by the Tasmanian Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1999, hospitals, doctors, midwives or other responsible persons provide the Tasmanian Registrar with a list of babies born containing basic information such as date of birth and sex of the baby. In the case of a live birth, the birth notification must be provided within 21 days of the birth. These notifications have been provided to the ABS since 2002 and are also used in producing quarterly population estimates.

37 Under the Act, the birth of a child must also be registered by lodging a birth registration statement with the Registrar within 60 days after the date of birth of the child. Once the parent(s) submits the birth registration statement, the record is updated and the Registrar provides ABS with a complete registration record. Where a match between a birth notification and birth registration statement is identified, the record is quality assured to ensure completeness of the record.

38 If the birth registration form is not received by the Tasmanian Registry, only the basic birth notification data is available. For these records, no information on age of mother is collected. As well, no information regarding the father is collected, therefore these births are coded as exnuptial paternity unknown births and included in exnuptial paternity not acknowledged statistics. As a result, the number of exnuptial births in Tasmania may be overstated and the number of nuptial births understated for 2002 onwards. In 2008, the number of unmatched birth registration forms was 150. Measures based on age of mother/father may also be affected, however the extent is unable to be determined.


Edits and imputations

39 During edit processes for the Birth Registrations collection, some items are corrected where they conflict with other known information. Missing data for some data items are imputed when appropriate. In 2008, there were 360 birth registrations for which place of usual residence was imputed, and 56 registrations for which sex was imputed.


Parity (previous children of mother)

40 Parity refers to the number of (live) births that a woman (or man) has had. Birth order refers to whether a birth is the first, second, third or higher-order birth of the parent. In registering births, information is collected on the number of previous children born to a mother.

41 Changes in ABS processing of birth registrations from 2007 have resulted in the availability of improved information on previous births to mothers. Prior to 2007, ABS published information on previous births of the mother from the current relationship only, for all states and territories. From 2007 onwards, data on previous births for all relationships (both current and previous, if any) of the mother are collected for all states and territories, excluding Victoria and Queensland. Due to high proportion of confinements in Tasmania in 2008 for which no information on previous children of the mother was available (table 2.8), data for Tasmania should be interpreted with caution.

42 The collection of these data are a result of the increasing demand for parity data for analysis and dissemination. For more information on the reasons behind the increased use of parity data and collection methods associated with these statistics, see Corr, P. and Kippen, R. 2006, The Case for Parity and Birth-Order Statistics, Australia and New Zealand Journal of Statistics, vol. 48, no. 2, pp. 171-200.

43 As a result of the above changes, data on previous births for 2007 and 2008 are not comparable with data for earlier years. However, the improved information indicates that the prevalence of first births (that is, mothers with no previous children) was overestimated prior to 2007, while numbers of mothers with two or more previous children were underestimated.

Previous children of mother(a)(b), Australia

None
One
Two
Three
Four
Five or more
Total
Year of registration(c)
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

2003
49.4
33.0
12.9
3.2
0.9
0.6
100.0
2004
49.4
33.0
12.9
3.1
0.9
0.6
100.0
2005
49.0
33.3
12.6
3.5
1.0
0.6
100.0
2006
48.7
33.0
12.8
3.8
1.0
0.7
100.0
2007
43.3
33.2
15.1
5.2
2.0
1.2
100.0
2008
43.0
33.1
15.0
5.4
2.0
1.4
100.0

(a) Previous children refers to the number of previous births of the mother, at the time of the birth registered in the reference year.
(b) Excluding Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania.
(c) Data for 2003 to 2006 are the number of previous births of the mother, from the current relationship only. Data for 2007 and 2008 are previous births of the mother, for all relationships.



Age of parent(s)

44 In processing 2007 birth registrations, discrepancies were identified between age of mother data as provided to the ABS and age of mother derived from date of birth of mother. Similarly, in 2008 there were 18,323 records (6% of all confinements) for which the derived age of mother was found to be inconsistent with the reported age. For these records, the derived age of mother was used, resulting in more accurate data on age of mother at the time of the birth. The same process was applied to information on age of father, for which 17,651 records were affected. For years prior to 2007, median age may therefore have been overstated.


CONFIDENTIALITY

45 The Census and Statistics Act 1905 provides the authority for the ABS to collect statistical information, and requires that statistical output shall not be published or disseminated in a manner that is likely to enable the identification of a particular person or organisation. This requirement means that the ABS must take care and make assurances that any statistical information about individual respondents cannot be derived from published data.

46 Where necessary, tables in this publication have had small values suppressed or randomised to protect confidentiality. As a result, sums of components may not add exactly to totals.


ROUNDING

47 Calculations as shown in the commentary sections of this publication are based on unrounded figures. Calculations using rounded figures may differ from those published. Where figures have been rounded in tables, discrepancies may occur between sums of component items and totals.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

48 The ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, business, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


RELATED PRODUCTS

49 Other ABS products which may be of interest to users include:
      Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0)
      Australian Historical Population Statistics (cat. no. 3105.65.001)
      Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) (cat. no. 1216.0)
      Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0)
      Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3302.0)
      Demographic Estimates and Projections: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 3228.0)
      Experimental Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, Jun 2006 (cat. no. 3238.0.55.001)
      Experimental Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 1991 to 2021 (cat. no. 3238.0)
      Perinatal Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3304.0)
      Population by Age and Sex, Australian States and Territories (cat. no. 3201.0)
      Population Projections, Australia (cat. no. 3222.0)
      Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC) (cat. no. 1269.0)

50 Other publications which may be of interest to users include Australia's Mothers and Babies, 2006, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National Perinatal Statistics Unit, AIHW website <www.aihw.gov.au>


ADDITIONAL STATISTICS AVAILABLE

51 More detailed births and fertility statistics can be obtained from data cubes (in Microsoft Excel format) available for download from the ABS website in Births, Australia, 2008 (cat. no. 3301.0):
  • Table 1: Births, Summary, Australia, states and territories - 1998 to 2008
  • Table 2: Births, Summary, Statistical Divisions - 2003 to 2008
  • Table 3: Births, Summary, Statistical Local Areas - 2003 to 2008
  • Table 4: Births, Summary, Local Government Areas - 2003 to 2008
  • Table 5: Births, Year and month of occurrence, Australia - 1998 to 2008
  • Table 6: Births, Nuptiality and age of parents, Australia - 2008
  • Table 7: Births, Summary, Country of birth of parents, Australia - 2008
  • Table 8: Multiple births, Australia, states and territories - 2008
  • Table 9: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births, Summary, Australia, states and territories - 2008
  • Table 10: Age-specific fertility rates and total fertility rate, Single year of age of mother, Australia - 1975 to 2008

52 Additional demographic information is available on the ABS website <http://www.abs.gov.au>; click Themes, then under People click on Demography. Users can also access the full range of electronic ABS data from the ABS website.

53 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.

54 The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website which details the products to be released in the week ahead.


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