ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION
This publication brings together statistics for live births and fertility in Australia. Data refer to births registered during the calendar year shown, unless otherwise stated.
Populations used in the calculation of rates for 2002 to 2006 are the preliminary estimated resident population by age and sex at 30 June 2002 to 2006 based on results of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing (2006 Census).
State or territory relates to the state or territory of usual residence, unless otherwise stated.
Two feature articles are included:
- 'Delayed Indigenous birth registrations in Australia'; and
- 'How many children do Australian women have?'.
CHANGES IN THIS ISSUE
Fertility rates from 2002 to 2005 have been revised using updated population data based on results of the 2006 Census.
Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) for 2001 have been removed from table 6.6, Regional Patterns of Fertility. SEIFA 2006 will be available in March 2008.
TIME SERIES OF STATE AND TERRITORY BIRTHS AND FERTILITY DATA
Time series of births and fertility data for the states and territories, Statistical Divisions, Statistical Local Areas and Local Government Areas are available in spreadsheet format from the ABS website. For more information see paragraph 21 of the Explanatory Notes.
Calculations as shown in the commentary sections of this publication are based on unrounded figures. Calculations using rounded figures may differ from those published.
It is recommended that when using information presented in this publication, the relevant statistics be rounded. All data are affected by errors in reporting and processing. Birth registration data are also affected by delays in registration.
Where necessary, tables have had small values suppressed or randomised to protect confidentiality. As a result, sums of components may not add exactly to totals.
For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Petra Lommers on Canberra (02) 6252 5995.
INCREASE IN FERTILITY
- Australia's total fertility rate (TFR) in 2006 was 1.81 babies per woman, the highest since 1995 (1.82).
- The increase in the TFR between 2005 and 2006 was largely due to births to women aged 30 to 39 years.
- Women aged 30-34 years experienced the highest fertility of all age groups in 2006, with 120.1 babies per 1,000 women. This was the highest rate recorded for women aged 30-34 years since 1963.
- Fertility of women aged 35-39 years increased to 63.3 babies per 1,000 women, the highest rate since 1961.
- Fertility of women aged 25-29 years decreased slightly from 2005, to 100.8 babies per 1,000 women in 2006. Women aged 25-29 years continued to record the second highest fertility of all age groups.
- Fertility of women aged 40-44 years in 2006 was the highest since 1971.
- At the national level, teenage fertility continued to decline.
- In 2006 there were 265,900 births registered in Australia, 6,200 (2.4%) more than in 2005. This was the second highest number of births registered in Australia, with only more births being registered in 1971 (276,400 births).
MEDIAN AGE OF PARENTS
- The median age of all mothers who gave birth in 2006 was 30.8 years, the highest on record.
- The median age of all fathers in 2006 was 33.1 years, also the highest on record.
- In 2006, 67% of births were to parents in a registered marriage, compared to 83% in 1986.
- While births to parents outside registered marriages are increasing, the proportion of births where the father has not acknowledged the birth (by not signing the birth registration form) has decreased from 5% in 1986 to 3% in 2006.
STATES AND TERRITORIES
- In recent years the TFR has trended upwards for most states and territories.
- Tasmania's TFR in 2006 was 2.12 babies per woman, the highest since 1975.
- Western Australia's TFR was 1.94 babies, the highest since 1988.
- In 2006, women aged 30-34 years recorded the highest fertility of all age groups in all states and territories with the exception of Tasmania and the Northern Territory, where women aged 25-29 years recorded the highest level of fertility.
- The number of births registered in 2006 was higher than in 2005 for all states and territories, with Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland recording the largest numeric increases and the Australian Capital Territory recording the largest percentage increase.
- While the median age of mothers has continued to increase for Australia, the median age in Tasmania decreased marginally in 2006.
INDIGENOUS BIRTHS AND FERTILITY
- There were 12,500 births registered in Australia during 2006 (5% of all births) where at least one parent was identified as Indigenous.
- Indigenous women had a higher TFR in 2006 (2.12 babies per woman) than all women (1.81 babies per woman).
- Higher fertility at younger ages contributes to the relatively high fertility of Indigenous women. In 2006, women under 30 years of age accounted for just under three-quarters of the Indigenous total fertility rate, compared to less than half of the fertility rate for all women in Australia.
- In 2006, births to Indigenous teenage mothers represented 79% of all births to teenage mothers in the Northern Territory.
DELAYED INDIGENOUS BIRTH REGISTRATIONS IN AUSTRALIA
- For all Indigenous births registered in Australia in 2006, the average interval between the occurrence and registration of the birth was 6.4 months. For all births registered in 2005, the average interval was 2.2 months.
- Of the states and territories, the average interval between the occurrence and registration of Indigenous births varied. Western Australia and Queensland recorded the largest average intervals (10.4 and 9.7 months respectively) in 2006, and the Northern Territory and Tasmania recorded the lowest average intervals (1.4 and 2.5 months respectively).
HOW MANY CHILDREN DO AUSTRALIAN WOMEN HAVE?
- Data from the 2006 Census provides information on completed fertility, the average number of children ever born to women, and women with specific numbers of children.
- Completed fertility has declined over the past 25 years. Women aged 40-44 years in 1981 (that is, women born in the period 1937-1941) had an average of 2.8 children per woman, while women of the same age in 2006 (born 1962-1966) had an average of 2.0 children.
- In 1981, around 28% of women aged 40-44 years had four or more children. In 2006, around 11% of women of the same age had four or more children.
- The proportion of women aged 40-44 years with no children has increased over time, from 9% in 1981 to 16% in 2006.