Teenage fertility rate drops to lowest ever


New Zealand’s fertility rate has dropped well below replacement level:

In the December 2017 year:

  • 59,610 live births and 33,339 deaths were registered in New Zealand, resulting in a natural increase (live births minus deaths) of 26,268.
  • There were 180 more births and 2,160 more deaths compared with 2016.
  • The total fertility rate dropped to a low of 1.81 births per woman, compared with an annual average of about 2.01 from 1980–2017.
  • The infant mortality rate was 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • All regions had more births than deaths.

If it wasn’t for a lower death rate and more immigration our population would be in decline.

The replacement rate for fertility is around 2.1% in the developed world. New Zealand has joined other OECD countries in falling below that.

Part of the reason for that is more couples are choosing to have no children or just one child.

Another reason is that more are leaving it too late and fertility drops for both men and women as they age.

The birth rate has dropped for all ages and among the statistics is one very positive one,  the teenage fertility rate has dropped to its lowest ever:

The teenage fertility rate has dropped to its lowest ever, with 15 live births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2017 – just under half the 2008 rate of 33.

In 1962, when fertility rates were highest for women in their twenties, the teenage fertility rate was 54 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19. While rates dropped for women in their twenties throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the teenage rate increased to a peak of 69 births per 1,000 women in 1972. The teenage rate then decreased to 30 births per 1,000 women in 1984. 

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The media release doesn’t say how many of the teenage mothers are single but the drop in the number of teens giving birth is reflected in a drop in benefit numbers for teen parents.

In 2017, the median age (half are younger and half older than this age) of New Zealand women giving birth was 30 years.  It has remained at 30 years since 1999. In comparison, the median age of women giving birth in the 1970s was 25 years.

If, we want a return to replacement fertility rates or higher the aim should be to encourage more couples to have children sooner but not too soon – in their 20s rather than their 30s or teens.


Research could help infertility and contraception


There’s a design fault in females.

We spend 40 odd years potentially being able to have children when most probably only want to conceive a couple of times.

Then some women who’ve spent years trying not to have children find, when they want to become mothers, that they can’t without medical scientific assitsance if at all.

And while there are all those deseprately wanting to have babies who aren’t able to, there are others who find they’re preganant and don’t want to and tragically some have children they can’t, or won’t care for.

University of Otago scientists have made a discovery which might help with a couple of these problems because their findings could result in new treatments for infertility and also lead to new contraceptives.

An Otago University group, led by Prof Allan Herbison, of the physiology department, has shown for the first time the key ovulation-triggering role of kisspeptin, which is a small protein molecule in the brain.

In 2003, researchers overseas found that the then recently-discovered molecule, dubbed kisspeptin, was vitally important in kick-starting puberty.

The Otago group, working with Cambridge University researchers, has now just published the first evidence that kisspeptin signalling in the brain is also essential for ovulation to occur in adults.

You can read the rest of the story here.

We’re having more babies


Our birth rate rose to 2.2 per woman in the year to June, up from 2.1 in the previous 12 months.

That’s back to the 1991 level of fertility but still well below the peak of 4.3 births which we had in 1961.

More than half the total of 64,140 live births were boys – 32,860 compared with 31,280 girls.

This is the highest number of births since the June 1972 year when 64,510 live births were registered. The highest number of births registered in any June year was 66,110 in 1962. At that time New Zealand’s population numbered just 2.5 million, compared with 4.3 million in 2008.

In the June 2008 year, women aged 30–34 years had the highest fertility rate (126 births per 1,000 women aged 30–34 years). Forty years ago, in 1968, women aged 20–24 years had the highest fertility rate (218 per 1,000), almost three times their 2008 rate (77 per 1,000).

On average, New Zealand women now have children about five years later than their counterparts in the mid-1960s. The median age (half are younger, and half older, than this age) of New Zealand women giving birth is now 30 years, compared with 25 years in 1968. The median age of women giving birth to their first child was 28 years in the year ended June 2008.

When I was attending ante-natal classes before my first baby was born nearly 24 years ago I was 28 and one of the few “older” expectant mothers. There was one woman a little bit older than me, another my age and one a couple of years younger but the other 12 or so in the class were early 20s or younger.

However, delaying pregnancy can make it more difficult to conceive. Publicity about this and the number of couples experiencing fertility problems when they start trying to become pregnant in their mid to late 30s might be beginning to persuade would-be parents to start their families earlier.

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