In the absence of routine vital statistics for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, this study attempts to estimate fertility for each group separately, using data on children ever-born collected in the 1981 and 1986 Censuses. While highlighting major problems associated with the data, two basic measures of fertility are estimated: (a) life-time fertility (mean parity); and (b) current fertility consistent with the children ever-born reported by women in the reproductive ages of 15-49 years. The study finds that in terms of life-time fertility, Aboriginal fertility was substantially higher than that of Torres Strait Islanders and both these groups, in turn, had higher mean parities than the total Australian population. The estimated Total Fertility Rate for the period 1981 and 1986 was 3.1 for Aboriginal women and 3.3 for Islander women.
This study also found that Aboriginal fertility has been declining over that period and further declines are possible. Islander fertility, however, appears to have resisted a similar decline during that period. In order to gain further insight into Aboriginal and Islander fertility, further analysis of data using different methodologies and fertility data from the proposed Australian Bureau of Statistics national survey of the Aboriginal and Islander population are needed.
ISBN: 0 7315 1469 6