Outer-lying suburbs like Townsville’s Deeragun the most fertile


I am very pleased to be mentioned on the front page of today’s Townsville Bulletin in Tess Ikonomou’s article Townsville suburb Deeragun crowned NQ’s most fertile (pay-walled, sorry). As I told the Bulletin, in many cities, population pressures, and the resulting property price and rent increases in inner city areas, mean that couples in their child-rearing years typically need to live in outer-lying areas to raise their families and get established in the property market.* So, in Townsville, we see most of the suburbs having fertility rates below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman (the areas shaded pink in the map above), except for a few, including the outer-lying areas Deeragun and Northern Beaches.


Townsville overall, like Brisbane and most of Queensland, has a fertility rate below replacement, with a 1.91 total fertility rate for 2017 estimated by the ABS, compared with significantly lower rates of 1.73 for Greater Brisbane (see map below) and 1.82 for Queensland as a whole.


Given I was born in Townsville, I must say I’m disappointed to report that Townsville is behind traditional rival Cairns in fertility, with Cairns’s total fertility rate estimated at 2.05, only marginally below the replacement rate. This is likely due in part to a higher proportion of Indigenous people, who typically are more fertile, in the Cairns region. As in Townsville and Brisbane, it is in outer-lying areas where fertility is highest in the Cairns region (see map below).


You can find all the data I’ve referred to and mapped at the ABS website. The maps were created using Tableau.

*I should note that, in part, this could be driven by restrictive zoning rules that prevent re-development of many our inner city areas (e.g. as argued in Brad Rogers’s 2013 guest post Old Queenslanders in a New City).

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