Notes on the data: Fertility

Total fertility rate, 2013 to 2015

Policy context: Fertility is an important component of population change (particularly population age-structure), and low fertility has implications for a population's ability to sustain itself [1]. Fertility levels vary between areas with different socioeconomic conditions, between metropolitan and regional areas, and among the States and Territories. Differences may exist for a variety of reasons, such as culture, social norms, employment, the economy, and socioeconomic status [1].

Fertility is measured by the total fertility rate (TFR) which represents the average number of children that a woman could expect to bear during her reproductive lifetime: it is calculated from details of the age of the female population, the number of births and the age of the mother at birth. Although there are signs that the Australian TFR is stabilising at around 1.8 children per woman, this is still well below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman. Sustained periods of fertility below the replacement level are major drivers of population ageing. Given the potential economic impacts of an ageing population, fertility is of particular interest to policy-makers.


  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Year book Australia, 2008. (ABS cat. no. 1301.0). Canberra: ABS; 2008.

Notes: Total fertility rates are not shown for areas recording fewer than 5 births

Numerator: Live births

Detail of analysis: Total fertility rate per woman, calculated from age-specific fertility rates

Source: Compiled by PHIDU based on ABS data from Table 2: Births, Australia 2015: Births, Australia, 2010 to 2015 (ABS Cat. no. 3301.0).

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