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3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2000  
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Special Article - Teenage fertility (Jun, 2000)


This article was published in Australian Demographic Statistics, June Quarter 2000 (ABS Catalogue number 3101.0).

The teenage fertility rate (the number of births in a given year per 1,000 females aged 15-19 years) has been declining since the 1970s, such that teenage girls are now less likely to be mothers than they were thirty years ago. The rate of childbearing among Australian teenage girls peaked at 55.5 births per 1,000 females in 1971, before falling to half its peak level (27.6) by 1980, and reaching its lowest ever rate of 18.1 births per 1,000 females in 1999.

TEENAGE FERTILITY RATE



INTERNATIONAL COMPARISON

Australia's recent teenage fertility rate is much lower than that of other comparable countries. Compared to the latest available data, Australia (18.1 in 1999) has lower fertility rates for females aged 15-19 years than the United States of America (51.1 in 1998), New Zealand (29.8 in 1998), United Kingdom (29.7 in 1996) and Canada (20.2 in 1997). Since 1950 Japan has consistently had one of the lowest teenage fertility rates (3.9 in 1996), although since the mid 1980s other countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and the Netherlands have also experienced declining teenage fertility rates, falling below ten births per 1,000 females aged 15-19.


STATES AND TERRITORIES

The Northern Territory had the highest teenage fertility rate of the States and Territories at 67.6 births per 1,000 females aged 15-19 years, nearly four times higher than the Australian teenage fertility rate (18.1). This reflects the high proportion of Indigenous people and births within the Northern Territory.

In all States and Territories, excluding Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, the teenage fertility rate was higher in the balance of State than in the capital cities. The Northern Territory showed the largest variation with the balance of State rate being three times higher than that of Darwin (98.7 and 30.0 respectively). Victoria had the lowest teenage fertility rate at both the balance of State and capital city levels (16.4 and 8.6, respectively).


INDIGENOUS TEENAGE FERTILITY

Indigenous women have children at a younger age than all women. The median age for Indigenous mothers of children born in 1999 (the age where there are as many mothers above the age as below it) was 24.4 years, compared to 29.7 years for all mothers. This is also reflected in the Indigenous teenage fertility rate, which at 77.6 births per 1,000 females was more than four times the rate for all Australian females. The Indigenous teenage fertility rate varied across the States and Territories, but was highest in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.


TEENAGE FERTILITY RATE( a), Indigenous and All Births

Births to
Indigenous
mothers(b)
All births
New South Wales
66.3
18.6
Victoria
39.8
10.8
Queensland
71.2
22.4
South Australia
71.9
15.5
Western Australia
96.8
21.2
Tasmania
37.4
27.1
Northern Territory
127.3
67.6
Australian Capital Territory
27.3
11.8
Australia
77.6
18.1

(a) The number of births per 1,000 females aged 15-19 years.
(b) Indigenous rates based on the 1996 Census-based projected population for 1999, low series. Experimental Projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population, 1996-2001 (ABS Cat. no. 3231.0).


NUPTIALITY AND PATERNITY-ACKNOWLEDGED

Most births to teenager mothers are ex-nuptial (91% in 1999), that is they occurred outside of a registered marriage. Across the States and Territories the highest proportions of ex-nuptial births were in Tasmania and the Northern Territory (each 97%) while the lowest proportions were in New South Wales and Victoria (each 88%).

Nationally, 74% of births to teenage mothers were ex-nuptial births where the paternity of the child was acknowledged. Acknowledgement of paternity ranged from 72% in New South Wales to 82% in Tasmania. The Northern Territory went against the pattern with only 47% of births being ex-nuptial, paternity acknowledged births.


NUPTIALITY OF TEENAGE FERTILITY

Nuptial
Ex-nuptial
paternity
acknowledged
Ex-nuptial
paternity not
acknowledged
Total
ex-nuptial
%
%
%
%
New South Wales
12.4
72.0
15.5
87.6
Victoria
11.7
79.3
9.0
88.3
Queensland
7.3
73.1
19.7
92.7
South Australia
5.5
79.4
15.1
94.5
Western Australia
6.6
76.7
16.8
93.4
Tasmania
2.6
82.4
15.0
97.4
Northern Territory
3.0
47.0
50.0
97.0
Australian Capital Territory
9.6
77.0
13.3
90.4
Australia
9.1
73.8
17.0
90.9



ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

For further information on teenage fertility and births in general see Births, Australia, 1999 (Cat. no. 3301.0) released on 16 November 2000.

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