Australians can’t afford to have children


Seven News reported that Australia’s fertility rate has hit a record low:

“Australia is in the grip of a baby drought. We aren’t producing enough children to maintain our population without resorting to immigration. And even that’s not guaranteed with fertility rates declining worldwide”.

“It’s currently at around 1.7. Below the 2.1 rate needed for a stable population. During the first three months of this year, the number of births in public maternity wards in New South Wales was the lowest since records began”.

Why is this a surprise?

Australia’s housing costs are among the highest in the world, having more than doubled relative to incomes over the past 30 years:

Housing costs

Australian households are carrying the world’s second highest debt loads (behind Switzerland):

Mortgage debt

And because most Australian households are on variable rate mortgages (with the remainder short-term fixed), they are spending more of their disposable income on debt repayments:

Debt servicing

Meanwhile, the real household disposable incomes of younger Australians have fallen at the fastest pace in history:

Australian real wages growth

Basically, high housing costs (both to purchase and rent) combined with falling incomes has made it uneconomic to have children in Australia.


In response, the federal government has ramped immigration to record levels, which has made housing even more expensive and supressed wages.

The problem is largely economic, brought about by idiotic policy.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.