3106.0 - Demography News, Feb 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/02/2003   
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The number of births registered in 2001 declined by 3,200 or 1% compared to 2000, from 249,600 to 246,400. Australia's fertility rate declined to 1.73 babies per woman while the median age of mothers of newborns reached 30.0 years.

The fertility rate varied substantially across the states and territories in 2001, 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 born in Australia who registered a birth in the three years 1999 to 2001 experienced a total fertility rate of 1.74 babies per women. Of the women who were born overseas who registered a birth in Australia during those years, there was wide variation in total fertility rates according to country of birth. For example, women born in Lebanon had a total fertility rate of 3.46 babies while women born in Hong Kong had a rate of 0.94 babies.

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).

Further details are available in Births, Australia, 2001 (cat. no. 3301.0), released on the 7 November 2002