Posted on September 29, 2005

Australians Do ‘Patriotic Duty’: Birthrate Up

Reuters, Sept. 28

CANBERRA, Australia — Treasurer Peter Costello urged Australians to “do their patriotic duty” and have more children but it seems they were doing it anyway, just for fun. A new study shows the birthrate hitting its highest level in seven years.

A study by Australian National University demographer Peter McDonald showed the country’s birthrate at 1.77 per woman in 2004, its highest level since 1997. McDonald believes the rate will stay around 1.8 for the next 5-10 years.

“We’ve been calling for policies to support work and family for several years, and also there’s been a great deal of discussion about, ‘if you wait too long, there’s a chance that you won’t have the baby’,” McDonald said.

“That kind of public discussion has been pretty prominent and I think that has had its effect,” he said. During a budget speech in May last year, Costello urged Australians to have more children, telling couples to “have one for your husband, one for your wife and one for your country.”

Costello’s comments came as this country of 20.3 million people struggles to deal with an aging population. The government’s Productivity Commission has forecast that one in four Australians will be aged over 65 by 2045.