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TRENDS IN FERTILITY
The total fertility rate (TFR) is the sum of age-specific fertility rates (live births at each age of mother per female population of that age). It represents the number of babies a female would bear during her lifetime if she experienced current age-specific fertility rates at each age of her reproductive life. Between 1998 and 2006 Queensland's TFR was around 1.8 babies per woman and in 2008 was 2.10 babies per woman. This was the highest rate recorded for Queensland since 1977 (2.11 babies). Over the last decade Queensland has consistently recorded a higher TFR than Australia.
TOTAL FERTILITY RATE(a)
Age-specific fertility rates
Consistent with the overall increase in Queensland TFR, age-specific fertility rates for all age groups of mother increased between 2007 and 2008, except for women aged 30-34 years and 45-49 years.
Over the past few decades there has been a tendency for Queensland women to have their babies at older ages. This transition to an older age-specific fertility pattern is illustrated by the shift in peak fertility from women aged 25-29 years in 2004 to women aged 30-34 years in 2005. Since then, 30-34 years has remained the peak fertility age group, with 124.7 babies per 1,000 women in 2008 (down from 125.7 in 2007).
Women aged 25-29 years experienced the second highest fertility in 2008, with a rate of 119.8 babies per 1,000 women (up from 119.7 in 2007). In 2008, women aged 20-24 years and 35-39 years experienced fertility rates of 73.8 and 63.7 babies per 1,000 women respectively.
AGE-SPECIFIC FERTILITY RATES(a), Queensland
Fertility rates amongst younger women have followed a declining trend over the last decade, however in recent years this trend appears to have halted with increases being recorded since 2006. Women aged 15-19 years experienced the greatest proportional decrease, with the fertility rate decreasing by 17% between 1998 and 2006 (from 23.6 babies per 1,000 women in 1998 to 19.7 babies per 1,000 women in 2006) but increasing to 24.7 babies per 1,000 women by 2008. Fertility rates for women aged 20-24 years decreased by 14% between 1998 and 2006 (from 71.3 babies per 1,000 women in 1998 to 61.2 babies per 1,000 women in 2006) but increased to 73.8 babies per 1,000 women in 2008.
In contrast, fertility rates for older age groups have increased relatively steadily between 1998 and 2008. The fertility rate for women aged 30-34 years increased 23% (from 101.6 babies per 1,000 women in 1998 to 124.7 babies per 1,000 women in 2008) and for women aged 35-39 years the increase was 56% (from 40.8 babies per 1,000 women in 1998 to 63.7 babies per 1,000 women in 2008). The fertility rate for women aged 40-44 years increased by 84% (from 6.7 babies per 1,000 women in 1998 to 12.3 babies per 1,000 women in 2008) as the trend towards older motherhood continued.
Total fertility rates in local government areas
In Queensland, local government areas with an estimated resident population of 20,000 or more recorded a wide range of total fertility rates. Mount Isa (C) recorded the highest rate of 2.73 babies per woman, followed by South Burnett (R) with 2.65, Dalby (R) 2.62 and Tablelands (R) 2.60. Of local government areas with an estimated resident population of 20,000 or more Brisbane (C) recorded the lowest rate of 1.69 babies per woman followed by the Gold Coast (C) with 1.72 and Whitsunday (R) 1.82.
Of the 28 local government areas with a population of 20,000 or more only 5 recorded a lower fertility rate than the Queensland average (2.00 babies per woman).
Total fertility rates were based on the average of births data for the three year period 2006 to 2008.
Data is also available for statistical local areas and statistical divisions. Please refer to Births, Australia, 2008 (cat. no. 3301.0) data cubes for further small area data.
There were 63,132 babies born to 62,072 mothers who were usual residents of Queensland registered in 2008. This was 1,883 (3.1%) more births than the number registered during 2007 but below the national average increase of 4.0% between 2007 and 2008.
Just over half (52%) of all births registered in 2008 were male babies, with the sex ratio at birth being 106.7 male babies for every 100 female babies. The Queensland sex ratio was higher than the national average (105.5 male babies for every 100 female babies).
Nuptial and exnuptial births
In 2008, 58% of births to Queensland mothers were nuptial births (births of children born of parents who are legally married at the time of the child's birth). Exnuptial births accounted for the remaining 42% of births, although many of these may have been to mothers in de facto relationships. The proportion of exnuptial births has been increasing steadily over the last decade with one in three (34%) births registered in 1998 being exnuptial.
EXNUPTIAL BIRTHS, Proportion of all births, Queensland
Acknowledgement of paternity
With exnuptial births comes the possibility that the father may not acknowledge the birth (that is, the father has not signed the birth registration statement). While the number of exnuptial births has increased greatly over the last decade, the proportion of these births in which paternity was not acknowledged has decreased. In 1998 around 14% of all exnuptial births were paternity not acknowledged, but by 2008 this proportion had decreased to 9.5%.
Age of parents at confinement
The median age of all Queensland mothers of births registered in 2008 was 29.7 years. Women who registered an exnuptial birth in 2008 had a median age of 26.1 years, over five years younger than women who registered a nuptial birth (31.5 years). The median age of women who registered an exnuptial birth where paternity was not acknowledged (24.9 years) was lower than the median age of women who registered an exnuptial birth where paternity was acknowledged (26.2 years).
MEDIAN AGE OF MOTHER, Queensland
As age-specific fertility rates indicate, the median age of mothers is affected by current trends towards delayed childbearing, and repartnering and subsequent family formation following separation or divorce. Since 1998 the median age of all Queensland mothers has increased by 0.9 years.
The median age of all fathers has also followed an upward trend. Since 1998 the median age of all fathers has increased by 0.9 years to 32.1 years in 2008. The median age of married fathers was 33.6 years, while the median age of unmarried fathers who acknowledged paternity was 28.8 years.
Previous children of the current relationship
For births registered in Queensland only previous children of the current relationship are recorded. In 2008, just over half (50%) of the confinements registered in Queensland were to mothers with no previous children from the current relationship. Nearly one-third (31%) of confinements were to mothers with one previous child from the current relationship and 6.4% of confinements were to mothers with three or more children from the current relationship.
CONFINEMENTS, Previous Children of Current Relationship, Queensland, 2008
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander births
Birth registrations classify a birth as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin (Indigenous) where at least one parent identified themselves as being of Indigenous origin on the birth registration statement. Indigenous fertility rates refer to births to Indigenous mothers. Some Indigenous births are not identified as such when they are registered and there are known lags in the registration of Indigenous births. Data presented may therefore underestimate the levels of Indigenous births and fertility rates in Queensland.
In 2008, the TFR of Queensland Indigenous women was 2.7 babies per woman. There were 4,402 births registered where at least one parent identified themselves as being of Indigenous origin on the birth registration certificate. This is 1.9% lower than the number registered in 2007 and accounted for 7.0% of all Queensland births in 2008.
The median age of Queensland Indigenous women who registered a birth in 2008 was 24.7 years, five years lower than the median age of all mothers (29.7 years).
In 2008, 87% of Queensland's Indigenous births were exnuptial (that is, births to women who were not in a registered marriage at the time of birth) compared to 42% of all births.
Queensland accounted for 29% of Australia's Indigenous births registered in 2008.
Further information on this topic can be accessed in Births, Australia, 2008 (cat. no. 3301.0).
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