Fertility rate falls – do we need Peter Costello back?

Former Treasurer Peter Costello raised a few eyebrows when he urged Australians to have “one for mum, one for dad and one for the country”, but his call to procreate and the Government’s baby bonus no doubt played an important role in lifting Australia’s fertility rate.  Today the ABS reported that the Costello-inspired increase in Australia’s fertility rate has come to a halt:

In 2009, Australia’s TFR [total fertility rate] was 1.90 babies per woman, down slightly from the 2008 TFR of 1.96 babies per woman which was the highest recorded since 1977.

Source: ABS Births, Australia, 2009

It’s too early to call whether the fertility rate will decline further from its recent highs. It’s possible that Australian women (and their partners) felt more comfortable having babies with Peter Costello in charge of the public purse, especially given his enthusiasm in promoting procreation.  Perhaps a more likely explanation, however, is that many Australian couples have delayed having children due to the economic turbulence and uncertainty we have experienced since the financial crisis of 2008.

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