Source: The Australian, Thursday, November 24, 1994, p.5

More parents put birth before marriage

Ms Lena Truusoot and eight-month-old Nina yesterday... 'marriage doesn't carry the same importance'


   ONE in four children in Australia is born 
out of wedlock, increasingly to older 
mothers, with the father now more likely 
than ever to acknowledge paternity. 
   The proportion of births outside 
registered marriage was a record 25 per 
cent in 1993-up from 15 per cent 10 
years ago, new figures from the Bureau of 
Statistics show. 
   More couples in de facto relationships 
are having children, later in life, with a 
high proportion of these couples 
eventually registering their marriages. In 
1993 paternity was acknowledged by 82 
per cent of fathers in so-called "ex- 
nuptial" births, an increase from 64 per 
cent 10 years earlier. 
 While the most fertile group of women 
continues to be those aged 25 to 29, 
women aged 30 to 34 have overtaken 
women in their early 20s as the second 
most likely to bear children. Of all births 
in 1993, 34 per cent were to mothers in 
the peak fertility group, while 30 per cent 
of births were to mothers in their early 
   Issued on the same day as the final 
report from the National Council for the 
International Year of the Family, the 
ABS report highlights a range of long- 
term trends in families: families are 
smaller and big families a relic of the 
past; couples are delaying marriage and 
childbirth; birth rates remain below 
population replacement levels; teenage 
mothers, married or not, are less in 
   New mum Ms Lena Truusoot, 30, said 
yesterday more couples were delaying the 
pomp and circumstance of a wedding day 
now that social mores had become more 
   "I think marriage today is more of a 
celebration-it doesn't carry the same 
importance," Ms Truusoot said yesterday 
at her beachside Sydney home. 
   Baby Nina was born to Lena and her 
boyfriend, Mr Joe Downs, 31, eight 
months ago, but there are no immediate 
plans for marriage. 
   "Maybe in the future we will, but it is 
not a priority for us," Ms Truusoot said. 
"It wasn't necessary just because I was 
pregnant: I don't think that is a good 
reason to get married. 
   "Marriage has become more of a 
manifestation than it used to be and not so 
much of a necessity." 
   These days 82 per cent of new babies 
have at least one Australian-born parent. 
Overseas-born mothers tend to be older 
than mothers born here. 
   During the past 10 years Australia's 
birth rate has fallen steadily. Although 
the number of births increased by 7 per 
cent to 260,229 in the decade to 1993, 
the female population of child-bearing 
age has jumped 20 per cent. 
   The median age of mothers continues to 
rise-as does the age of fathers- while 
the fertility rate (the number of children 
one woman would expect to have during 
her child-bearing years) has been steady at 
around 1.9 during the past decade. 
Australia's fertility rate resembles most 
closely the pattern of the United Kingdom 
and remains below the so-called 
"replacement level" of 2.1 children per 
   For the first time, the ABS included 
details of indigenous births in its annual 
report. Based on birth registrations, the 
indigenous populations of South Australia 
and the Northern Territory experienced 
higher fertility rates than the general 
   The fertility rate for Aboriginal mothers 
in South Australia was 2.5 compared with 
1.8 for all mothers in that State. The 
corresponding figures for the Northern 
Territory were 3.0 and 2.3. 

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