Happy Mother's Day from the ABS!

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10 May 2018

MEDIA RELEASE
Embargo: 11.30 am (Canberra time)
Happy Mother's Day from the ABS!


If you are one of the more than six million mums in Australia or countless more mother figures, Happy Mother’s Day. In celebration, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has pulled some numbers about mums in Australia.

Let's hear it for the mums

The median age of first-time mums in 2016 was 30.5 – up from 29 in 2011 – with women aged 30-34 having the highest fertility rate of 123 babies per 1,000 women. The teenage fertility rate continued to decline.

The total fertility rate in 2016 was 1.789 babies per woman, down from 1.875 in 2006 and 1.805 in 1996. Since 1976, Australia’s fertility rate has been below the replacement level of 2.1.

In 2016, mums made up at least 77 per cent of Australian women aged 15 years and over, and at least 20 per cent of women aged 20-29 were mums. At least 10,300 – or 0.2 per cent of all women who had given birth – were in same-sex relationships.

Life satisfaction and health

On average, partnered mums rated life satisfaction at 7.8 out of 10 – higher than 6.9 for single mums, but lower than 8 out of 10 for women with no children.

76 per cent of single mums felt their health was good, very good or excellent, compared with 90 per cent of partnered mums.

Connection with community

Our General Social Survey data (2014) reveals 58 per cent of partnered mums and 55 per cent of single mums had contact with other family or friends every day. A further 39 per cent of partnered mums and 41 per cent of single mums had contact with family or friends at least once a week.

Some 15 per cent of all mums have experienced homelessness. However, this issue is more likely to affect single mothers, with almost a third (32 per cent) having experienced homelessness at some point, compared with 10 per cent of mothers in couple families.

The good news is that most mums (96 per cent of partnered mothers and 93 per cent of single mothers) felt they would be able to get support in times of crisis.

More mothers in paid employment

According to the 2016 Census, full-time working mothers were most commonly employed in primary or secondary education, hospitals, and aged care. The most common occupation for mothers working full-time was as a general clerk performing administrative duties. For those working part-time, most were employed as sales assistants. This is unchanged from 2011.

Since the 1996 Census, the proportion of mothers who are active in the workforce has increased from 46.1 per cent to 53.4 per cent. Mothers are increasingly likely to be employers or self-employed, with this percentage rising from 3.9 per cent to 6.7 per cent in the last 20 years.

As for housework, half of mums aged between 20 and 49 (inclusive) do 15 or more hours of unpaid domestic work a week, compared to 9 per cent of women with no children. Both figures had fallen – 57 per cent and 11 per cent respectively – from the 2006 numbers.

The number of mothers who study has grown by 9.6 per cent per cent since 2011. In 2016, roughly 95,100 – or 1.6 per cent – of mothers were studying full-time at technical, tertiary or other institutions.

The proportion of mothers with post-school qualifications has greatly increased since 1996, from 23.2 per cent to 51.5 percent. Over the same period, qualifications for mothers in nursing and hairdressing have become less common (13.2 per cent to 9.4 per cent and 4.4 per cent to 3.1 per cent respectively) while accounting (2.8 per cent to 4.5 per cent) and business management have become more popular (0.6 per cent to 2.6 per cent).

Then there are the 114,800 mums who work, study and care for their children under the age of 15 at the same time.

Thank you to all the mums and mother figures. May your weekend be full of love, laughter and breakfasts in bed.

For more information, please see the General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2014 (cat. no. 4159.0), Births, Australia, 2016 (cat. no. 3301.0), and the Census of Population and Housing: Australia Revealed, 2016 (cat. no. 2024.0).

Media notes:

  • A partnered mother is defined as a woman who shared a household with a partner in a couple relationship and one or more dependent children aged under 15.
  • When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
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