3106.0 - Demography News, Dec 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/01/2002   
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Almost a quarter of a million (249,600) births were registered in Australia in 2000, the first increase since 1992.The fertility rate of 1.75 babies per woman in 2000, the same as in 1999. Over the past 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.

Fertility rate varied substantially across the States and Territories, from 1.6 babies per woman in the Australian Capital Territory to 2.2 in the Northern Territory. If current fertility rates were to continue, 24% of all Australian women would remain childless at the end of their reproductive life. The highest childlessness proportion for women would be in the Australian Capital Territory (33%) followed by Victoria (31%).

Of all the capital cities, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra had the lowest fertility rate at 1.6 babies per woman each (averaged over 1998-2000). Darwin had the highest at 1.9. Generally, capital cities had a lower fertility rate than the balances of the States/Territories. The balance of Queensland had the lowest fertility (1.9) while the balance of the Northern Territory had the highest (2.4).

The median age of women having a baby (where half of mothers were younger and half were older) has continued to increase over the last 30 years, from 25.4 years in 1971 to 26.6 years in 1980 and 29.8 years in 2000. The median age of fathers also increased over time to 32.2 years in 2000, 2.4 years older than mothers. Indigenous mothers were younger with a median age of 24.5 years in 2000.

Further information is available in Births, Australia 2000 (Cat. No. 3301.0) released on 31 October 2001.