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3301.0 - Births, Australia, 2000  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/10/2001   
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MEDIA RELEASE

October 31, 2001
Embargoed 11:30am (AEST)
133/2001

Fertility Rate Holds - ABS

Almost a quarter of a million (249,600) births were registered in Australia in 2000, the first increase since 1992 according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today. The fertility rate of 1.75 babies per woman in 2000 is 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. Internationally, it is lower than that of the United States of America (1.9) and New Zealand (2.0) but higher than that in Canada (1.6), Japan (1.3) and many European countries such as Italy (1.2).

Nearly half of all mothers (49 per cent) who registered a birth in 2000 were aged 30 years and over, up from 25 per cent in 1980. The highest birth rate occurred for women aged 30-34 years followed by those aged 25-29 years. 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.

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 per cent 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 per cent) followed by Victoria (31 per cent).

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).

Four percent of total births were identified as Indigenous in 2000, with the fertility rate of Indigenous women estimated at 2.2 babies per woman. Indigenous women in the Northern Territory had the highest fertility rate at 2.8 babies per woman. In 1998, Indigenous babies weighed less than other babies, with an average birth weight of 3,170 grams compared to 3,360 grams for all babies.

Catalogue reference: Births, Australia 2000 (cat. no. 3301.0). If you wish to purchase a copy of this publication contact the ABS Bookshop in your capital city.

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