Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/01/2006   
   Page tools: Print Print Page RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  

BIRTHS

In 2003 there were 251,200 births registered in Australia, resulting in a total fertility rate of 1.8 babies per woman. Australia is experiencing the second of two long periods of fertility decline since 1901 - from 1907 to 1934 and from 1962 to the present (excluding a plateau from 1966 to 1972) - although in recent years the total fertility rate has remained relatively stable.

Fertility increased through the 1950s, and peaked in 1961 when the total fertility rate reached 3.5 babies per woman (graph 5.28). After the 1961 peak the total fertility rate fell rapidly to 2.9 babies per woman in 1966. This fall can be attributed to changing social attitudes, in particular a change in people's perception of desired family size, facilitated by the oral contraceptive pill becoming available. During the 1970s the total fertility rate dropped further, falling to replacement level (2.1 babies per woman) in 1976, below which it has since remained. This fall was more marked than the fall in the early-1960s and has been linked to the increasing participation of women in education and the labour force, changing attitudes to family size, lifestyle choices and greater access to contraceptive measures and abortion.

In the late-1970s the total fertility rate began to decline at a slower rate, continuing through the 1980s and 1990s. Since 1998 the total fertility rate has been relatively stable, varying between 1.7 and 1.8 babies per woman.

Graph 5.28: TOTAL FERTILITY RATE


According to United Nations projections, the world average total fertility rate for 2000-05 is estimated at 2.7 babies per woman, declining from the relatively constant five babies per woman that existed until the late-1960s and early-1970s. However, total fertility rates for individual countries vary considerably. Many factors can influence a country's fertility rate, such as differences in social and economic development and the prevalence of contraceptive use. In general, developing countries have higher fertility rates than developed countries.


Over the past 50 years, fertility has declined in most countries. Of the countries shown in graph 5.29, the total fertility rates of the Asian countries have shown the largest declines. Singapore and China experienced large declines in the total fertility rate - from 6.4 and 6.2 babies per woman respectively in 1950-55, to 1.4 and 1.7 in 2000-05.

Graph 5.29: TOTAL FERTILITY RATES, Selected countries


Australia’s total fertility rate for 2003 of 1.8 babies per woman was well below the world’s average of 2.7 but was comparable to that of other developed countries, most of which have also experienced sustained fertility decline. According to the United Nations estimated average total fertility rates for the period 2000-05, Macao (SAR of China) has the lowest fertility rate (0.8), followed by Hong Kong (SAR of China) (0.9) and Ukraine (1.1). Several European countries also have very low fertility, including Spain, Italy and the Russian Federation (all 1.3). By contrast, many African countries have high fertility rates, with Niger (7.9) being the highest (graph 5.30). Other countries with high fertility include the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (7.8) and Afghanistan (7.5).

5.30 TOTAL FERTILITY RATES, By country - 2000-05
Map 5.30: TOTAL FERTILITY RATES, By country - 2000-05

Source: United Nations Population Division, 'World population prospects: The 2004 revision', viewed 22/07/05, <http://www.un.org>.


Australian women continue to delay child-bearing. The median age at child-bearing increased from 26.9 years in 1983 to 28.9 years in 1993, then to 30.5 years in 2003. Over the past 20 years there has been a fall in the fertility rate of teenagers, from 26.6 babies per 1,000 teenage females in 1983 to 16.3 in 2003. Conversely, the fertility rate of women aged 40-44 years has more than doubled, from 4.3 babies per 1,000 women in 1983 to 10.0 in 2003. However, births to older mothers have failed to compensate for the decline in births to younger women, resulting in a decline in total fertility (graph 5.31).

Graph 5.31: AGE-SPECIFIC FERTILITY RATES


An alternative to the ‘snapshot’ measure provided by the total fertility rate for a specific period is total issue data, that is, the total number of children ever born alive per woman. Total issue data reveal a decline over time in the average number of children by age of women. While at earlier ages the decline in average issue may be related to the postponement of child-bearing, average issue among women aged 40-44 years has also declined. Completed fertility (the average number of babies a cohort of females have borne) for the cohort born in 1953 show an average issue of 2.3 births per woman. Projections into the future show that the cohort of females born in 2003 would have an average issue of 1.6 births per woman if current trends continue.

Table 5.32 provides summary measures of fertility for years between 1993 and 2003.

5.32 SELECTED SUMMARY MEASURES OF FERTILITY

Registered births
Crude birth rate
Total fertility rate
Ex-nuptial births(a)
'000
rate(b)
rate(c)
%

1993
260.2
14.7
1.86
24.9
1994
258.1
14.5
1.85
25.6
1995
256.2
14.2
1.83
26.6
1996
253.8
13.9
1.80
27.4
1997
251.8
13.6
1.78
28.1
1998
249.6
13.3
1.76
28.7
1999
248.9
13.1
1.76
29.2
2000
249.6
13.0
1.76
29.2
2001
246.4
12.7
1.73
30.7
2002
251.0
12.8
1.76
31.3
2003
251.2
12.6
1.75
31.6

(a) Births to unmarried mothers.
(b) Births per 1,000 population.
(c) Births per woman.

Source: Australian Historical Population Statistics (3105.0.55.001); Births, Australia (3301.0).


Previous PageNext Page


Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.