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The Australian National University

Indigenous Fertility and Family Formation

Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of the fertility and family formation patterns of Indigenous Australians in the 2006 and 2011 Censuses of Population and Housing. Marital status is sometimes seen as a precursor to family formation. However, there are differences in the notion of marriage as a legal process, with the Indigenous population more likely to be in de facto relationships rather than legally married. The analysis in this paper suggests that the fertility patterns of Indigenous females differ from non-Indigenous females both in terms of the level and the timing of fertility. Indigenous females have higher fertility rates and are more likely to have children at a younger age in comparison with non-Indigenous females. This has implications for the education and career prospects of females, but also for the wider Indigenous population through flow-on impacts on the future labour force.

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