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3301.0 - Births, Australia, 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/11/2002   
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Median age of mothers of newborn children reaches 30 years

  • The median age of mothers of newborn children (that is where half of the mothers were younger and half were older) reached 30 years for the first time in 2001. The median age of mothers is affected by trends towards delayed partnering and childbearing and following divorce, repartnering and subsequent family formation.
  • The median age of married mothers of newborn children reached 30 years in 1995, increasing to 31 years in 2001.
  • The median age of unmarried mothers of newborn children remained below 30 years, at 26.2 years in 2001.
  • The oldest mothers giving birth in 2001 were in Victoria (median age of 30.7 years) followed by the Australian Capital Territory (30.4 years) and South Australia (30.3 years).
  • The youngest mothers giving birth in 2001 were in the Northern Territory (median age of 27.9 years) followed by Tasmania (29.1 years).
  • The median age of fathers of babies registered in 2001 was 32.3 years. The median age of fathers reached 30 years in 1983.

Births decline
  • The number of births registered in 2001 declined by 3,200 (or -1%) compared to the number registered in 2000, from 249,600 to 246,400.
  • Western Australia experienced the largest decline (-4%) in the number of births registered in 2001 compared to 2000, followed by South Australia and New South Wales (each -3%).
  • Tasmania experienced the largest increase (13%) in the number of births registered in 2001 compared to 2000, followed by the Northern Territory (4%) and Queensland (1%).

Fertility declines
  • In 2001, Australia's total fertility rate was 1.73 babies per woman, 1% lower than in 2000 (1.75).
  • Australia's fertility rate remains lower than that of New Zealand (2.0) and the United States of America (1.9) and higher than Canada (1.6), Japan (1.3) and many European countries such as Italy and Greece (each 1.2).
  • Women aged 30-34 years continued to experience the highest fertility rate in 2001 (107 babies per 1,000 women), however this rate declined by 3% compared to 2000 (111 babies).
  • Women aged 25-29 years experienced the second highest fertility rate in 2001 of 104 babies per 1,000 women, a decline of 3% compared to 2000 (107 babies).
  • Teenage fertility marginally increased between 2000 and 2001, from 17 babies per 1,000 women in 2000 to 18 in 2001.

Regional fertility
  • Women in the Northern Territory experienced the highest total fertility rate in 2001 at 2.26 babies per woman while women in the Australian Capital Territory experienced the lowest at 1.51 babies per woman.
  • Women living in Australia's major cities (69% of women aged 15-49 years) have the lowest total fertility rate (1.65 babies per woman) while women living in Remote areas (2.27 babies) and Very remote areas (2.28 babies) have the highest fertility rates.
  • Of all the capital cities, Melbourne has the lowest fertility (1.54 babies per woman averaged over the three years, 1999, 2000 and 2001), followed by Adelaide and Canberra (each 1.61 babies per woman).

Indigenous births
  • There were 11,400 births registered in Australia during 2001 (5% of all births registered) where at least one parent identified as Indigenous.
  • Notwithstanding the coverage of Indigenous births, Indigenous women have a higher total fertility rate (2.14 babies per woman) than all women (1.73 babies).
  • High fertility at younger ages contributes to the relatively high fertility of Indigenous women. In 2001, women under 30 years of age accounted for three-quarters of the Indigenous total fertility rate.
  • The median age of Indigenous women who registered a birth during 2001 was 24.8 years, more than five years younger than the median age of all women (30.0 years).
  • Indigenous women in the Northern Territory had the highest fertility rate of any state or territory, at 2.98 babies per woman. In comparison, the fertility rate for all women in the Northern Territory was 2.26.
  • The median age of Indigenous women giving birth was the lowest in the Northern Territory (24.1 years) followed by Western Australia (24.3 years).

Fertility by country of birth
  • Women born in Australia who registered a birth in the three years 1999 to 2001 experienced a total fertility rate of 1.74 babies per women. Of the women who were born overseas who registered a birth in Australia during those years, there was wide variation in total fertility rates according to country of birth. For example, women born in Lebanon had a total fertility rate of 3.46 babies while women born in Hong Kong had a rate of 0.94 babies.

Childlessness
  • The proportion of women remaining childless has increased over time in each age group. For women aged 25-29 years in 1981, 35% were childless, while 59% of women of the same age in 2001 were childless.
  • In 1981, 8% of 40-44-year-old women were childless. By 2001 this had increased to 13% of women.

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