Family Facts and Figures: Births

Statistical information provided in charts and data tables on births in Australia

Family Facts and Figures menu

Number of births and total fertility rate, 1921-2012

Number of births and total fertility rate, 2921-2012. Data shown in table below.

The total fertility rate fell in the 1920s and early 1930s and then rose until 1961. The highest total fertility rate since 1921 was 3.55 in 1961. Since 1976, the total fertility rate has been below replacement level. After stabilising in the 1980s, the fertility rate then fell in small progressive steps in the 1990s, reaching its lowest level on record in 2001 (1.74). By 2008, the rate had increased to 2.02, and then subsided slightly.

Data table - Number of births and total fertility rate, 1901-2012 (selected years)
Year Total fertility rate Births
1921 3.119 136198
1925 2.95 135792
1930 2.581 128399
1934 2.107 109475
1935 2.115 111325
1940 2.256 126347
1945 2.736 160560
1950 3.067 190591
1955 3.275 207677
1961 3.548 239986
1965 2.973 222854
1970 2.859 257516
1975 2.148 233012
1976 2.060 227810
1980 1.891 225527
1981 1.930 235842
1982 1.930 239903
1983 1.924 242570
1984 1.840 234034
1985 1.923 247348
1986 1.868 243408
1987 1.845 243959
1988 1.832 246193
1989 1.838 250853
1990 1.902 262648
1991 1.849 257247
1992 1.890 264151
1993 1.863 260229
1994 1.847 258051
1995 1.829 256190
1996 1.806 253834
1997 1.788 251842
1998 1.773 249616
1999 1.767 249636
2000 1.769 249636
2001 1.743 246394
2002 1.771 250988
2003 1.765 251161
2004 1.782 254246
2005 1.846 264493
2006 1.875 270849
2007 1.994 292152
2008 2.023 302272
2009 1.97 301253
2010 1.954 303318
2011 1.917 301617
2012 1.933 309582

Note: Total fertility rate is the sum of age-specific fertility rates (live births at each age of mother per female population of that age). It represents the number of children a female would have during her lifetime if she experienced current age-specific fertility rates at each age of her reproductive life.
ABS modified total fertility rate for some years in Births, Australia, 2012 (Cat. No. 3301.0).
Sources: ABS (various years). Births, Australia (Catalogue No. 3301.0).

Age-specific fertility rate, 1921-2012

Age-specific fertility rate, selected years. Data shown in table below.

The fertility rates for all age groups except women aged 15–19 years fell in the 1920s and early 1930s, then increased until the mid 1940s, and continued to increase for those aged in their 20s until1961. From the 1950s to mid-1970s, the fertility rates of women in these two age groups (20–24 and 25–29) was markedly greater than that of all other groups. The fall in fertility rate after 1961 was particularly striking for women in aged 20–24 years. The rates of those aged in their 30s have mostly increased since the early 1980s. Across most of the years shown, women in their late 20s had the highest fertility rates of all women, with the greatest differences occurring in the 1920s and 1930s, then in the 1980s. However, during the new millennium, the fertility rate of women in their early 30s has overtaken that of all groups.

Data table - Age-specific fertility rate, 1921-2012
Year 15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44
1921 26.6 135.9 169.0 142.5 101.9 43.6
1925 29.1 130.8 163.4 131.3 92.8 38.4
1930 29.3 120.2 144.9 112.2 75.6 30.9
1935 24.6 99.6 123.2 94.0 57.3 21.9
1940 23.6 112.5 136.8 100.5 56.6 19.4
1945 23.8 132.4 164.2 125.2 76.1 23.7
1955 41.8 205.4 199.6 122.0 64.4 20.4
1960 44.3 220.1 216.3 127.5 62.3 18.4
1965 47.5 179.3 188.5 110.1 53.0 15.0
1970 50.9 172.0 189.6 101.8 44.9 11.7
1975 40.1 133.9 149.6 74.1 26.0 6.1
1980 27.6 107.0 141.0 75.1 23.7 4.4
1985 22.8 95.8 146.0 89.0 26.9 4.5
1990 22.1 79.4 137.9 101.7 34.7 5.5
1995 20.4 67.1 121.7 106.0 42.3 7.2
2000 17.7 59.2 107.9 109.5 48.7 8.7
2005 16.6 54.4 105.5 119.5 61.5 11.1
2006 16.3 54.1 104.7 123.1 64.7 11.6
2007 17.1 58.8 110.0 129.7 69.6 13.0
2008 18.4 59.4 108.9 130.7 72.0 14.5
2009 17.9 56.8 106.3 127.7 70.1 14.5
2010 16.7 55.3 104.0 127.2 71.1 15.1
2011 16.1 53.0 103.1 124.9 70.3 15.2
2012 16.1 53.3 103.1 126.9 71.6 15.2

Sources: ABS (2008). Australian historical statistics (Cat. No. 3105.0.65.001); ABS (2012) Births, Australia, 2012 (Cat. No. 3301.0).

Age of new mothers, 1991, 2001 & 2011

Age of new mothers. Data shown in table below.

In 1991, women most commonly had their first child when in their 20s. In 2001 and 2011, the late 20s and early 30s were the most common age for becoming a mother. In 1991, 23% of new mothers were aged 30 years and over, the proportions rose to 37% in 2001 and 43% in 2011.

Data table - Age of new mothers, 1991, 2001 & 2011
Age (years) 1991 2001 2011
<20 12.1% 10.0% 7.2%
20-24 28.4% 20.3% 18.1%
25-29 36.3% 32.4% 32.2%
30-34 18.1% 26.6% 28.2%
35-39 4.5% 9.1% 11.7%
40+ 0.6% 1.6% 2.6%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

Sources: Lancaster,P., Huang, J. & Pedisich, E.(1994). Australia’s mothers and babies 1991 (Perinatal statistics series no.1). Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; Laws, P.J. & Sullivan, E.A.(2004). Australia’s mothers and babies 2001(Perinatal statistics series no. 13). Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; Li, Z., Zeki, R., Hilder, L. & Sullivan, E.A. (2013). Australia’s mothers and babies 2011 (Perinatal statistics series no. 28). Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Ex-nuptial births, 1901-2012

Rate of ex-nuptial births, selected years. Data shown in table below.

For the first half of the 20th century, around 4–6% of all births were ex-nuptial, rising to 8% in the late 1960s. Then, over the 35 years from 1970 to 2005, the proportion quadrupled from 8% to 32%; however, it has levelled off in recent years, with 33–34% of all births being ex-nuptial between 2006 and 2012.

Data table - Ex-nuptial births, 1901-2012
Year %
1901 5.99%
1911 5.79%
1921 4.75%
1931 4.93%
1941 3.84%
1951 3.91%
1952 3.89%
1953 3.97%
1954 3.97%
1955 4.11%
1956 4.23%
1957 4.25%
1958 4.55%
1959 4.71%
1960 4.77%
1961 5.11%
1970 8.3%
1971 7.40%
1980 12.40%
1995 26.56%
1996 27.41%
1997 28.09%
1998 28.67%
1999 29.21%
2000 29.3%
2001 30.73%
2002 31.25%
2003 31.58%
2004 32.16%
2005 32.22%
2006 32.69%
2007 33.33%
2008 34.31%
2009 34.49%
2010 33.84%
2011 34.18%
2012 34.51%

Sources: ABS (various years) Births Australia (Cat. No. 3301.0); Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics (1964, 1973) Demography (Bulletin No. 63 & 86).

Family Facts and Figures menu

Top