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3301.0 - Births, Australia, 1997  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/11/1998   
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  • Australia's fertility rate below replacement level for the 20th year - ABS (Media Release)

MEDIA RELEASE

November 12, 1998
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
123/1998

Australia's fertility rate below replacement level for the 20th year - ABS

    The average number of babies women were having in 1997 was below replacement levels for the twentieth year in a row according to birth figures released today from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

    In 1997 Australia's total fertility rate stood at 1.8 babies per woman. This is below the level of 2.1 babies a woman would need to have over her reproductive lifespan to replace herself and her partner. 1977 was the last year that the total fertility rate was at replacement level.

    Births are still the main component of population growth. Each year there are approximately twice as many births as deaths, thereby keeping the natural increase of Australia positive. In 1997, the natural increase of 125,000 was greater than net overseas migration of 84,000.

    During 1997 there were about 500,000 conceptions resulting in the 251,800 registered births, and in the order of 2,000 still births, 150,000 miscarriages and 95,000 abortions.

    Most births still occur within registered marriage. In 1997, 72 per cent of women giving birth were in a registered marriage, declining from the peak of 96 per cent in 1950. Of the 28 per cent of births to unmarried women, about half were to women in de facto marriages. The proportion of births not acknowledged by the father has been slowly declining, from 4.9 per cent of all births in 1987 to 4.3 per cent of all births in 1997.

    The median age of parents has been steadily increasing over the past two decades. In 1977 the median age of mothers was 26.1 years while the median age of known fathers was 29.1 years. By 1997 the median age of mothers had increased to 29.4 years and fathers to 32.0 years.

    All Capital Cities in Australia had lower fertility rates than the balance of their respective State or Territory, with Adelaide having the lowest fertility rate of all cities.

    The total fertility rate of Indigenous mothers in 1997 was much higher than that of all mothers. For example, in Queensland the fertility rate for Indigenous women was 2.3 babies per woman compared to 1.8 for all women. Indigenous mothers were generally younger than non-Indigenous mothers and were much less likely to be married.

    More details are in Births Australia, 1997 (cat. no. 3301.0) available from ABS Bookshops. A summary of the publication is available on this site.

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