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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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BIRTHS

For most of the first half of the last century the number of births registered in Australia each year remained under 140,000, with a trough occurring in the early 1930s during the Great Depression. The number of births then increased rapidly, reaching a peak of 276,400 in 1971, fell sharply during the remainder of the 1970s, then increased from the early 1980s to reach another peak in 1992 of 264,200 births. Following 1992 numbers of births decreased, reaching 246,400 in 2001. Since then, the number of births has increased, reaching 296,600 in 2008, the highest number of births registered in a calendar year in Australia.

2.4 Registered births
Graph: 2.4 Registered births



Sex ratio

Just over half (51%) of all births registered in 2008 were male babies, resulting in a sex ratio at birth of 105.5 male babies for every 100 female babies.


Nuptial and exnuptial births

In 2008, 66% of births were nuptial births; that is, births to parents who were married at the time of the birth (marriage in this publication refers to a registered marriage unless otherwise indicated). Exnuptial births accounted for the remaining 34% of births, although many of these births may have been to mothers in de facto relationships. The proportion of exnuptial births has been increasing since the 1950s, and has risen sharply over the last two decades.

2.5 Exnuptial births, Proportion of all births
Graph: 2.5 Exnuptial births, Proportion of all births



Acknowledgment 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 past twenty years, the proportion of these births for which paternity was not acknowledged has decreased. In 1988 around 26% of all exnuptial births were paternity not acknowledged, but by 2008 this proportion had decreased to 9%. In terms of all births, paternity not acknowledged births have decreased from 5% of all births in 1988 to 3% in 2008.

2.6 Paternity not acknowledged births, Proportion of all births
Graph: 2.6 Paternity not acknowledged births, Proportion of all births



Age of parents at confinement

The median age of all mothers of births registered in 2008 was 30.7 years. Women who registered an exnuptial birth in 2008 had a median age of 27.0 years, almost five years younger than women who registered a nuptial birth (31.9 years). The median age of women who registered an exnuptial birth where paternity was not acknowledged (25.5 years) was lower than the median age of women who registered an exnuptial birth where paternity was acknowledged (27.1 years).

2.7 Median age of mother
Graph: 2.7 Median age of mother


Prior to the 1930s the median age of mothers giving birth had been decreasing. During the 1930s the median age stabilised, then rose briefly at the end of the Second World War, with an equally sharp decline immediately following the war. The median age of mothers fell substantially over the following three decades, reaching a low of 25.4 years in 1971. The reinterpretation of abortion law in New South Wales in 1971 was associated with a substantial fall in births to young women and an increase in the median age of mother. From 1972 onwards, the median age of mothers consistently increased, reaching 30.8 years in 2006, the highest on record.

However, data quality investigations during processing of 2007 birth registrations data indicated that age of parents, and therefore median age, may have been overstated for some birth registrations in 2006 and previous years (see paragraph 44 of the Explanatory Notes for more information). Despite the uncertainity associated with information on age of mother, the increases in median age of mother apparent since the early 1970s appear to have slowed or halted.

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.

The median age of all fathers over the past two decades has also followed an upward trend. In 2008 the median age of all fathers was 33.1 years, with no change from 2006 and 2007. Data quality investigations during 2007 processing also indicated that age of parents, and therefore median age, may have been overstated for some birth registrations in 2006 and previous years.

Between 1988 and 2008 the median age of married fathers increased by almost three years, from 31.0 to 34.1 years, while the median age of unmarried fathers who acknowledged the birth of their child also increased, from 27.0 years to 29.8 years.


Number of previous children of the mother

Changes in ABS processing of data collected by state/territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages 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, 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 (see paragraphs 40 to 43 of the Explanatory Notes). Data for 2008 are presented in table 2.8. Due to high proportion of confinements in Tasmania for which no information on previous children of the mother was available, data for Tasmania has been excluded from analysis below.

Of the states and territories that collect data on all children born to a mother, the Australian Capital Territory recorded the highest proportion (44%) of first births of the mother (that is, no previous children), followed by Western Australia, New South Wales and South Australia (each 43%).

For mothers who registered a birth in 2008, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia recorded the highest proportions (35% and 34% respectively) of mothers who had had one child previously, while the Northern Territory recorded the highest proportion (31%) of mothers with two or more previous children.

2.8 CONFINEMENTS, Previous children of the mother - 2008

Previous children of the mother(a)
None
One
Two
Three
Four
Five or more
Not stated
Total confinements
State or territory of registration
no
no
no
no
no
no
no
no

New South Wales
39 319
30 593
13 930
5 047
1 882
1 047
np
91 820
Victoria
32 725
23 904
9 702
3 002
934
685
-
70 952
Queensland
30 965
19 065
7 747
2 525
823
606
-
61 731
South Australia
8 512
6 703
2 982
1 070
404
311
5
19 987
Western Australia
13 658
10 177
4 636
1 644
626
537
176
31 454
Tasmania(b)
1 187
2 056
1 040
415
181
113
1 669
6 661
Northern Territory
1 561
1 105
638
300
128
107
-
3 839
Australian Capital Territory
2 458
1 929
756
245
77
65
-
5 530

- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
np not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated
(a) Includes all children born to a mother, for all states and territories excluding Victoria and Queensland. For Victoria and Queensland, includes previous children of the current relationship only.
(b) Due to the high proportion of confinements in Tasmania for which no information on previous children of the mother was available, data for Tasmania should be interpreted with caution.


Graph 2.9 presents aggregate data for all states and territories excluding Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. In 2008, 40% of nuptial confinements were to mothers with no previous children, 48% of exnuptial paternity acknowledged confinements were to mothers with no previous children, and 60% of exnuptial paternity not acknowledged confinements were to mothers with no previous children.

This pattern is reversed for mothers having their second or third child. In 2008, 36% of nuptial confinements were to mothers with one previous child, 28% of exnuptial paternity acknowledged confinements were to mothers with one previous child, and 18% of exnuptial paternity not acknowledged confinements were to mothers with one previous child.

2.9 Confinements, Previous children of the mother(a)(b), Nuptiality - 2008
Graph: 2.9 Confinements, Previous children of the mother(a)(b), Nuptiality—2008



Confinements resulting in a multiple birth

The number of confinements resulting in a multiple birth has increased consistently since the 1970s. In 2008, the number was 4,600, 24% more than the number recorded in 1988 (3,700 confinements) and 5% more than the number recorded in 2007 (4,400 confinements).





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