The Contribution of Repartnered Fertility to Tfr in Australia

Ann Evans, Australian National University
Edith Gray, Australian National University

Union dissolution can have both a negative and positive effect on fertility. While a relationship breakdown has a depressing effect on childbearing, the formation of a new partnership after a breakdown can lead to further parity progression with the new partner. In this paper we examine Australian women’s fertility and comparing and contrasting fertility before and after repartnering. Using the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics (HILDA) survey data from 2001 – 2015 we calculate age-specific fertility rates and total fertility rate (TFR) for women aged 15 to 49 in three different relationship categories. We distinguish between fertility in a first partnership, a second or higher order union, or outside of a partnership. As a whole, fertility in first partnership contributes over 60 per cent to TFR, around one third is also attributed to fertility in higher order unions. Not surprisingly repartnered TFR has a slightly older age profile with a peak in the ASFR in the early 30s.

Examining each type of union separately we find that in every year the fertility rate for repartnered women is consistently higher than for women in their first relationships. While TFR is on average 2.1, for first unions it is 2.8 and for higher order unions 3.2.

Unlike first unions, higher order unions are more likely to involve either one or both partners having had children from a previous union. We discuss the implications for step families and blended families and for the future of fertility in Australia.

Presented in Session 30: Family Life Courses and Fertility