Australian fertility rate hits record low

Media Release

Australia registered a total of 294,369 births in 2020 resulting in a total fertility rate (TFR) of 1.58 babies per woman according to the latest figures released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Director of Demography, Beidar Cho said: “The record low total fertility rate can be attributed to fewer births and birth registrations in most jurisdictions in a year marked by COVID-19 disruptions.”

The Northern Territory recorded the highest TFR (1.86 babies per woman) closely followed by Tasmania (1.77 babies per woman) and Western Australia (1.70 babies per woman), while Victoria recorded the lowest rate (1.43 babies per woman).

“In 2020, the total fertility rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 2.25 babies per woman. There were 22,016 births registered (7 per cent of all births) where at least one parent was an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian,” Ms Cho said.

In the past 30 years, the TFR has slowly declined from 1.9 in 1990. This decline was most prominent among women aged 15 to 19 years where the fertility rate decreased by nearly two-thirds (to 7.8 per 1,000 women). The fertility rate of women aged 20 to 24 years also saw a large decline.

In contrast, the fertility rate of women aged 40 to 44 years almost tripled (to 15.2 per 1,000 women), while women aged 30 to 34 years continue to have the highest fertility rate (110 babies per 1,000 women), followed by women aged 25 to 29 years (79.7 babies per 1,000 women).

“The long-term decline in fertility of younger mums as well as the continued increase in fertility of older mums reflects a shift towards later childbearing. Together, this has resulted in a rise in median age of mothers (31.6 years) and a fall in Australia's total fertility rate,” Ms Cho said.

Further details are in Births, Australia, 2020. Australia, state, territory and sub-state information is also available for free download from the ABS website


Media notes

  • Lower birth numbers can be attributed to fewer births and birth registrations in most jurisdictions in a year marked by COVID-19 disruptions: New South Wales declined by 3,330 births (or -3.4%); Victoria declined by 3,846 births (or -4.9%); Queensland declined by 2,279 births (or -3.7%); South Australia declined by 952 births (or -4.9%); Western Australia declined by 1,090 births (or -3.3%); and Australian Capital Territory declined by 127 births (or -2.0%).
  • Birth records are provided electronically to the ABS by state and territory registrars on a monthly basis for compilation into aggregate statistics on a quarterly and annual basis.
  • Annual estimates on a year of registration basis are published within 12 months of the reference year in Births, Australia, the source of this media release. Quarterly estimates of births on a preliminary basis are published five to six months after the reference period in National, state and territory population and revised 21 months after the end of each financial year.
  • One dimension of timeliness in birth registrations data is the interval between the occurrence and registration of a birth. Some births occurring in one year are not registered until the following year or later. This can be caused by either a delay by the parent(s) in submitting a completed form to the registry, or a delay by the registry in processing the birth (for example, due to follow up activity due to missing information on the form, or resource limitations). More information available in Methodology in Births, Australia.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via (8:30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
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