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New projections for Australia's 10-year fertility rate

Peter McDonald

Image: Honorary Professor Peter McDonald AM, CEPAR Chief Investigator

Australia’s fertility rate will temporarily dip in 2021 following the COVID‑19 pandemic before rising again in the mid-2020s and settling to a long-term average by 2030, according to CEPAR Chief Investigator Professor Peter McDonald’s analysis in a new report on the projection of Australia’s future fertility rates.

The research report commissioned by the Federal Government’s Centre for Population provides a roadmap for Australia’s population composition in the post-COVID‑19 years.

The report forecasts the fertility rate will drop to 1.59 babies per woman in 2021 compared with 1.70 babies per woman in 2018 and then transition to a long-term average of 1.62 in 2030.

This expert analysis by leading demographer Professor Peter McDonald projects that Australians will have fewer children in the coming two years.

Over the period to 2024, the fertility rate is expected to climb back to 1.69 as the majority of women who delayed having their first or next baby resume their plans.

The fertility rate will then return to its longer-term level of 1.62 from 2030 as the deferral trend normalises.

The report concludes that women are likely to defer having their first, or next, baby in the current economic climate.

It also states that history has shown fertility tends to decline in periods of economic uncertainty.

McDonald, P 2020, A Projection of Australia’s Future Fertility Rates, Centre for Population Research Paper, The Australian Government, Canberra. 

View the full public release here.