Notes on the data: Fertility

Total fertility rate, 2015 to 2017


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. Since 1974, Australia’s TFR has been below the replacement level of 2.1 babies per woman. In 2017, Australia’s TFR was 1.74 babies per woman, a decline from 2.02 babies per woman since 2008 [2]. 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.


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Year book Australia, 2008. (ABS cat. no. 1301.0). Canberra: ABS; 2008.
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Fertility rates - Births, Australia 2017. (ABC cat. no. 3301.0). Canberra: ABS; 2018 URL; accessed 30 March 2020.

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


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area


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 2017: Births, Australia, 2011 to 2017 (ABS Cat. no. 3301.0).


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