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Australian Birth Data for 2021; Be Careful of Interpretation Without Reading Methodology. Apparent November / December Birth Drop is Due to Late Registrations.
Birth rates for 2021 will not be reported substantially complete until 2023 October 2023, based on the current reporting schedule. No Covid-19 Measures Impacts or interpretations are possible!
On 25th October 2022, ABS released birth data for 2021, providing this summary, which showed total registered births for 2021 at 309,996 an increase over 2020. The registered births result in total fertility rate for 2021 given as 1.70 which is below the rate of 2.1 needed to keep the population stable. With this birth rate Australia is dependent on immigration for population growth.
Looking further at the methodology section of this data, we must note that there are late birth registrations included. Of the 309,996 births registered in 2021, 88.2% occurred in 2021, 9% (27,751) occurred in 2020, and the remainder occurred in 2019 or earlier years.
The Press Release “Fertility Rate Bounces Back in 2021” is a little disingenuous though because it is referring to year in which a birth was registered, not year of birth. It is too early to know if there was fertility rate recovery. It could well be that the lower registered births in 2020 were are result of births not being registered in a timely manner due to lockdown restrictions. Fertility rates in Australia are hardly reassuring showing ongoing downward trending.
Some groups are getting concerned about the Table showing breakdown of births by month.
Here is the by-year of birth data from 1975 to 2021. Australian population growth through births is clearly in decline.
Here are the by-month birth rates plotted. This shows a big drop in births in November and December 2021. There is no cause for concern for 2021 yet based on this data, given the expected late registrations!
If the 2021 data is under reported by about 12%, which is well within expected range of delayed reporting, the final data could look something like this:
Australia certainly has cause for concern over falling birth rates. However, the birth data presented by ABS to date cannot used to draw any conclusions with regards to covid-19 pandemic impacts on birthrates yet! Here is another recent, July 2022, discussion of birth rates and fertility from AIHW, which only discusses periods up to 2020.
Australia does not have timely release of data to allow real time, or close to real time, assessment of Covid-19 Pandemic Measures on Population.