4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, Dec 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/12/2010   
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14 December, 2010
Embargoed: 11.30 am (Canberra time)

Getting the family together for Christmas?

While many Australian families will be spending Christmas together this year, the shape of these families, and where they might be five or twenty Christmases from now, could be very different according to the latest report on Australian Social Trends released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

One for the country: recent trends in fertility

There will be many young faces around Australian Christmas tables this year, with more babies born to Australian women in the last half decade than in any other five year period.

Since dipping to an all time low in 2001 (at 1.73 babies per woman) Australia's total fertility rate has risen over the past decade, to 1.96 babies per woman in 2008 and 1.90 babies per woman in 2009. Age specific fertility rates were highest among women aged 30-34 years with 124 babies per 1,000 women, up from 108 in 1999.

Christmas tables in regional and rural homes are more likely to need an extra highchair, or a separate table for the kids, with women in these areas experiencing the highest total fertility rates. The Statistical Divisions of Australia with the highest total fertility rates were South West and North West Queensland (2.85 and 2.79 babies per woman respectively).

Australian households: the future

Australia's ageing population may mean that come future Christmases, there will be more older couple only and lone person households.

It is projected that couples with children at home, currently Australia's most common family type (2.6 million in 2006 and 3.1 million projected in 2031), will be overtaken by couples without children at home over the next couple of decades. Couples without children at home, mostly older 'empty nesters', are projected to be the fastest growing family type, with a projected increase of 1.4 million (to 3.5 million) between 2006 and 2031. Lone person households, many being older widowed women, are projected to grow by 1.3 million (to 3.2 million) over the same period.

Moving house

As almost half (45%) of parents in couple families with dependent children had moved in the five years to 2007–08, many families may be enjoying Christmas in a different home to where they were five years ago. If visiting the grandparent's home for Christmas however, it is more likely to be where it was previously, as only 17% of people living in older households without children had moved over that same five year period.

People living in young households without children were very mobile, with the vast majority having moved in the last five years (90%). Many of these younger people had moved because they had purchased a home (25%), or moved in with their partner (20%), or for employment reasons (15%).

More details on these topics are available in the December edition of Australian Social Trends, 2010 (cat.no. 4102.0), available at www.abs.gov.au/socialtrends.

Media Note:
  • The total fertility rate represents the average number of babies that a woman could expect to bear during her reproductive lifetime if current fertility rates continue.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.