Source: The Mercury, 9 January, 1997, p.5
MORE babies are being born out of wedlock in Australia. First-time mothers also are on average five years older than their own mothers when they had their first child. More than 68,000 babies, 26.6% of total births in Australia, were born out of wedlock in 1995 compared with more than 38,000 babies born 10 years earlier, representing 15.5% of total births. An annual survey of births in Australia, released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, traces the impact of the contraceptive pill, the increasing participation of women in education and the workforce and the falling popularity of marriage. Until 1960, nearly 95% of all births in Australia were within marriage. The number of births outside marriage has increased overall by 70% since 1924. The Bureau said the appearance in Australia in 1961 of the contraceptive pill led to a divergence of birth patterns within and outside wedlock. Initially, the pill was used almost exclusively by married women. Between 1961 and 1971 the number of births outside marriage doubled while births within wedlock began to fall. The increasing number of de- facto relationships, evident by the late 1970s, saw the rate of births outside wedlock increase further. The Northern Territory had the highest rate of births outside of marriage with 57.2%, followed by Tasmania on 33.3%. The lowest rate in 1995 was in Victoria with 21.8%.
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