With Australia experiencing declining fertility rates over the past four decades, governmental concern has increased over the consequences of the falling birth rate and how the trend might be reversed (or stabilised).
Projections from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released recently suggest the downward trend in fertility is set to continue. According to the “medium growth” scenario, Australia’s total fertility rate (TFR) – the number of children born per woman – is projected to decline to 1.8 by 2026, down from the current level of 1.93 (in 2012). This is well below the level required for population replacement (2.1 births per woman).
There is a factor missing from this debate, lost amidst politicking over paid parental leave (PPL) and associated policy incentives: intended family size. Very few are questioning how many children Australians actually want to have? More importantly, are Australians achieving their childbearing goals?