is effectively in the middle of a baby drought. The fertility rate has dropped to 1.8. Photo: ABS
The average number of babies n women are havinghas fallen to the lowest level in 10 years –the level it was when the federal government introduced a baby bonus to boost population growth.
The national fertility rate has dropped to 1.8 children per woman, down from 1.88 children last year.
“This rate has been declining since 2008, though not reaching the low recorded in 2001,” said AJ Lanyon, the regional director atthen Bureau of Statistics.
Altogether, 299,700 births were registered in in 2014, down from 308,100 in 2013.
The country’sfertility rate started increasing in 2002 and sat at two children per woman from 2007 to 2010,coinciding with the peak of the mining boom.
However, it has all been downhill since 2010,despite the introductionof government-funded paid parental leave in early 2011.
Demographer Peter McDonald said it was “impossible” to know ifthe baby bonus, child care rebate and tax rebates introduced after the 2004 election caused the spike. He believes it wasdue to women in their 30s deciding not to delay having children any longer. The recent decline was because those women had finished having their children.
The extra government support”may have helped people in making their decision to go ahead with the first birth”, Professor McDonald said.A rate of 1.8 was normal for and not a cause for concern, he added.
Meanwhile, a 9.3 per cent decline in births in NSW has been attributed to a clerical lag, with the state’s birth rate expected to return to normal. This means the national rate couldactually be around 1.85, according to Professor McDonald.
Overall, women aged between 30 and 34 were the most fertile, recording 120 babies per 1000. They were followed by women aged 25 to 29, with 95 babies per 1000.
Teenagers and women over 40 now have roughlythe same fertility rate -12.9babies and 14.4 babies per 1000 women respectively. This is a historical low for teen pregnancies, which fellfrom a peak of 55 babies per 1000 girls in 1971.
For the first time the ABS mappedbirth rates andfound families in city centres have a much lower birth rates than outer suburbs, where the rate exceedstwo children.
Piers Greville with son Lucien Greville-Mac. Photo: Luis Ascui
Artists Piers Greville and his wife Bridget Mac still live close to Melbourne’s CBD and are anexample of families choosing to haveone child.
Lucien Greville-Mac was born in early 2012 when the national fertility rate was at 1.9, just slightly higher than it is now.The couple were living in Berlinbut returned home when Lucien was born. Mr Greville saysthey are content with one child and he has”a feeling that there is enough people in the world without [us] contributing to a population explosion”.
“We thought one child might allow us some of the lifestyle we hadbefore having a child,” Mr Greville explains.
It also gives them a chance to concentrate on raising one person, rather than being stretched by two. Friends with multiple childrentell him that two children were harder than one.
Asked whether Lucien might miss having siblings, Mr Greville says they try hard to socialise with other families as often as possible.