By JR on Sunday, January 01, 2012
One wonders how many of these births are to "asylum seekers". I often see African ladies about the place trailed by several little kids
AUSTRALIA is in the midst of the biggest baby boom in our history. Final figures for 2011 are expected to show the number of births topping 300,000 eclipsing the 250,000 children born at the peak of the original baby boom in 1961. "These numbers are absolutely unprecedented," social researcher Mark McCrindle said.
And the rush of new arrivals will help the country hit another milestone in 2012, with the population reaching 23 million some time in July. Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show Australia's population grew 1.4 per cent over the past year nearly one and a half times the global average.
"The debate over whether we want a big Australia or not is over, we're getting one," Mr McCrindle said. "Whether you like it or not, these are the numbers."
The most recent ABS data says a new Aussie is born every one minute and 47 seconds.
But women are waiting longer to have children, with the average age of mums rising from 29 to 30 between 2000 and 2009, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
"The proportion of mothers aged 35 and over also continues to rise up from 17.1 per cent in 2000 to 22.8 per cent in 2009," AIHW spokeswoman Associate professor Elizabeth Sullivan said.
The number of births has been accelerating for a decade now. The Howard government introduced the baby bonus payment in 2002 after the fertility rate hit an all-time low of 1.7 children per family in 2001. The fertility rate is now more than two.
Mr McCrindle, of McCrindle Research, said that had produced another trend, Tween Town, with record numbers of pre-teens aged eight to 12.
The children of Generation X, they were being raised differently as their parents reacted to the "cotton-wool kids, bubble-wrap generation, helicopter parenting" of their own upbringings. "We see this kind of pendulum in parenting," said Mr McCrindle. "Generation X are encouraging their kids to get outdoors more, go for the sleep-over, go on camp, expand their skills and horizons."
The ballooning at the bottom end of the age range is being mirrored at the other, as the original Baby Boomers reach retirement age. "We will have more 65th birthdays next year than we've ever seen in our history ... we're looking at more than 200,000 of them,"Mr McCrindle said.
With an ageing population and a record number of births, those in the middle will have their work cut out. "We're calling it the 'carer nation'," he said.
"There's a shortage of aged care and a shortage of child care, but the third carer issue is the home carer. If you take a Baby Boomer in their 60s, they might be looking after their grandkids a couple of days a week as their children work and their own ageing parents also need a lift to the doctor or some level of care.
"You have this massive and silent group of thousands, if not millions of people, with this care role. It saves the government billions of dollars and its not really recognised and respected."