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Australia’s fertility rate bounces back, challenged with aging population

Baby. (File Photo: IANS)

Canberra, Jan 2 (IANS) Australia’s fertility rate has rebounded from an all-time low to pre-Covid levels.

According to the government’s annual population statement, which will be released in full on Friday, the national fertility rate in the financial year 2020-21 was 1.66 babies per woman, reports Xinhua news agency.

It marks a similar rate to 2018-19 after it fell to an all-time low of 1.58 births per woman in the early stages of the pandemic and 1.61 for 2019-20 as a whole.

The report noted that Australians adapted to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic and caught up on delayed childbearing plans.

Australia’s population is expected to grow from 25.7 million people in 2021 to 39.2 million within two decades.

The median age of the population is projected to rise from 38.2 to 42.8 by 2060, prompting a warning from Treasurer Jim Chalmers over the challenges of an aging population.

“We really welcome the rebound in the fertility rate since the worst of Covid-19,” he said on Monday.

“It is a good thing to see that fertility rate edge upwards but we are still aging as a population and as a society, and so we need to make sure that we’ve got the workforce to support our society as it changes, as it evolves, and as it ages.”

Chalmers said the measures included making early childhood education cheaper to make it easier for parents to work if they want to, and investing substantially in skills and training to get that workforce of the future needed.

He also mentioned that the government wants “the right balance” between homegrown population growth and a sensible migration program at the same time to make sure the workforce can support an aging population.

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