3301.0 - Births, Australia, 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/11/2002   
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November 7, 2002
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Older mothers and less babies - a 25 year trend

Australia's fertility rate declined to 1.73 babies per woman, and the median age of mothers of newborns reached 30 years in 2001, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

Victoria had the highest median age of mothers at 30.7 years, followed by the Australian Capital Territory (30.4 years) and South Australia (30.3 years). The lowest median age of mothers giving birth in 2001 was in the Northern Territory (27.9 years) followed by Tasmania (29.1 years).

The total fertility rate decreased to 1.73 babies per woman in 2001, compared to 1.75 the previous year. Over the 25 years from 1976 the fertility rate in Australia has remained below 2.1, the level required for a woman to replace herself and her partner.

Australia's fertility rate is lower than the United States of America (1.9) and New Zealand (2.0), but higher than Canada (1.6), Japan (1.3) and many European countries such as Italy (1.2).

The fertility rate varied substantially across the states and territories, from 1.51 babies per woman in the Australian Capital Territory to 2.26 in the Northern Territory.

Of the capital cities, Melbourne had the lowest fertility (1.54 babies per woman averaged over the three years, 1999 to 2001), followed by Adelaide and Canberra (1.61). Overall, women living in Australia's major cities (69% of all women aged 15-49 years) had the lowest fertility rate (1.65) while women living in remote areas (2.27) and very remote areas (2.28) had the highest fertility rates.

Women aged 30-34 years continued to have the highest age-specific fertility rate in 2001 (107 babies per 1,000 women), slightly lower than the rate in 2000 (111 babies). Teenage fertility increased marginally between 2000 and 2001, from 17 babies per 1,000 women in 2000 to 18 in 2001.

The number of births registered in 2001 declined by 3,200 or 1% compared to 2000, from 249,600 to 246,400. Western Australia experienced the largest decline (4%) in the number of births registered, followed by South Australia, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory (each 3%). Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Queensland were the only states/territories to experience an increase in the number of births registered in 2001 when compared to 2000.

Further details are in Births, Australia, 2001 (cat. no. 3301.0).