3.7 Fertility

Curious patterns of fertility rates have been described (see Yusuf and colleagues, 1980,1981). The number of births in Australia to Maltese born was 2,456 in 1971 representing a crude birth rate of 45.8%, which was about twice that of the Australian average of 20.12%, and one of the highest of those of South European birth . Likewise the age specific fertility index (0.330) was higher than the average Australian (0.248) or S. European (e.g. Greece 0.318).

These data of course imply that in 1971, most Maltese women in Australia were of child-bearing age, married, not using contraceptives, and no doubt eager to start a family.

In 1981 the number of births was 1465, giving a crude birth rate of 25.7/1000, a significant fall from the 1971 figure. However it was still markedly higher than the average Australian crude birth rate (15.5 / 1000) and S. European rates. Only immigrants from Arab countries (44.1/1000) and Indo-China (29.2/1000) had comparable or higher rates.

The latest available data for 1986, show that the fertility rate is still one of the highest being 2330 for Malta, 1925 for Australia, and 1940 for European-born (see Castles, 1989).

In the 20-24 age group, the number of live births to Maltese-born females (162/1000) is one of the highest of all ethnic groups being 70% higher than the average Australian and follows closely on Lebanese (271/1000), and Turkish (198.7/1000) birth rates. For the age-group 20-29, the birth rates in Maltese-born are the highest amongst all European groups.

In 1986, there were 447 births in Victoria, where one or both parents were born in Malta representing 0.75% of the total number of births. Of these 268 (59.9%) had both parents born in Malta; i.e. about 40% of infants born in Victoria of Maltese origin have one parent who is not Maltese.

In NSW, the number of births from Maltese parents in 1987 was 451, representing 0.53% of NSW births. The proportion of infants with one non-Maltese parents was 62.1%.

It is also interesting to examine how quickly the Australian pattern permeates or influences the ethnic pattern. In most ethnic groups there is a convergence towards the average Australian rates with time of settlement in Australia. However in Maltese,(as in some other ethnic groups, including the Dutch),the degree of convergence is not marked.

Source: Maurice N. Cauchi - Maltese Migrants in Australia, Malta 1990

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