Why Australia’s fertility rate has plummeted to a historic low
Australia’s fertility rate has crashed to the lowest point on record, with the average woman now having only 1.66 children.
Professor of Demography at the University of Melbourne, Peter McDonald, says a plummet in the number of women under 25 giving birth is the major factor behind the decline.
“This is related to girls staying in education longer, giving up on the idea of ‘I don’t have a great future in life so I’ll have a baby’,” he told Stephen Quartermain and Tony Leonard, filling in for Ross and Russel.
Professor McDonald said the introduction of paid parental leave acts as an incentive for women in the workforce to have a child, but the removal of the baby bonus in 2104 has reduced assistance for unemployed mothers.
“We have a bit of a social difference now that if you happen to be in the bottom 30 per cent of women, in economic terms, you do pretty badly out of the system compared to those in the top 70 per cent,” he said.
“If the fertility rate continues going down, then that becomes a major issue. I think it’s probably is reaching the point where the federal government might have to have a look at it.”
The birth rate is expected to fall further as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In the past when there is an economic downturn, people delay their births,” Professor McDonald said.
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