Birth Rates
Birth Rates

Why Queensland’s birthrate is declining

QUEENSLAND is following the national trend of a rapidly declining birthrate, with older mothers partly to blame for the fall in the number of babies per woman.

Women are leaving pregnancy until later than ever, with new Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing the median age has hit a record high of 31.4 years.

Australian women in 2018 had an average 1.74 children each, the second-lowest rate on record.

The lowest was in 2001 when the birthrate was 1.73, prompting the federal government to introduce the baby bonus to boost new arrivals.

The Queensland rate for 2018 was a similar 1.76, down from 2.13 10 years previously.

Demographer Mark McCrindle told The Courier-Mail: "When the fertility rate is below two for a set of parents, you could say we are not replacing the population, but the population is being propped up by migration.

"Each woman is having fewer babies, but the population is growing, so in 2018 there were 315,147 babies born - up 1.9 per cent from 2017."

The Power, Porter and Berry babies were born this week at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. Picture: Lachie Millard
The Power, Porter and Berry babies were born this week at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. Picture: Lachie Millard

In the 1960s the birthrate was 3.5, with women more likely to have a big brood.

"At 1.74, we are only a smidgen away from the all-time low of 2001, and this trend downwards is likely to continue," Mr McCrindle said.

"Our population is becoming very top-heavy with older people. Births ­offset the ageing curve."

The baby bonus introduced by then treasurer Peter Costello had a big impact on the birthrate, taking it from 1.7 in 2001 to 2.0 in 2008.

Mr Costello famously urged couples to have at least three children: "one for Mum, one for Dad and one for the country".

"It will be interesting to watch the government's move when we hit that all-time low again," Mr McCrindle said.

In 2018 in Queensland, the number of babies born was 61,956, up 649 from 2017, with the highest number born to women aged 30 to 34.

Theodore Milton Berry was born this week in Brisbane.

His father Max said he and his wife were looking forward to having more than one child.


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