Changes in Ethnic Composition and Fertility of the Australian Population

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:39
Location: Elise Richter Saal (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Jo. M. MARTINS, Macquarie University, Australia
The rate of population growth in Australia at 1.6% p.a. in 2011 was well above the average for OECD industrialised countries. Most of this growth is due to migration as fertility has declined since 1961 to below replacement level in 2011. Migration led to an increase in the proportion of the foreign-born in the population from 20% in the 1971 census to 26% in the 2011 census. This reflects the growing importance of migration in Australia’s population growth but also points to possible changes in its ethnic composition. An examination of the country of origin of the Australian population in 1971 shows that 9 out of the 12 top countries of origin of migrants were in Europe but only 5 out of 12 were in Europe in 2011. China and India that were minor countries of origin in 1971 became the third and fourth largest countries of origin of migrants in 2011. A relevant question is whether the change in the ethnic composition of the Australian population had an impact on fertility in the period 1971-2011. To throw light into this issue, this paper contains an analysis of the fertility levels of Australian-born mothers as well as those of foreign-born mothers in 1971 and 2011. Differences are examined on cross-sectional and longitudinal bases. The paper also contains a complementary standardised analysis of number of children of mothers born in different world regions using the experience of Australian-born mothers as the standard in 2011. In aggregate terms, the average TFR of foreign-born mothers in 2011 (1.8) was below but close the mean for Australian-born mothers (1.9). The results of the analysis show trends and change from a longitudinal perspective. It also identifies convergence with the experience of Australian-born mothers as well as prevailing deviations from a cross-sectional perspective.