Data from the 2021 HILDA survey confirms a fact BPW researched in 2004: women still aren’t having the number of children they say they want.
In high-income countries, there has been a long-term downward trend in the fertility rate. In 2019, Australia hit a record-low of 1.66 babies per woman. More people are not having children, either by choice or through circumstance. About a quarter of Australian women in their reproductive years are likely to never have children. The media generally reports this as a women's issue – more women are completing tertiary education and building careers. But it isn’t just about the women and their choices.
BPW Adelaide launched the ThinkFertility project in 2005 and the website went live in 2007. Our research revealed two reasons for delayed family formation that were surprisingly common: young men and women didn’t realise their fertility diminished rapidly in their 30s, and women were struggling to find a partner who was “ready” to start a family. The website was designed to address the knowledge gap, but it’s hard to fix the men in their 30s and 40s who say they want children – but not yet.
There was, and still is, too much hope in and reliance on reproductive technology: IVF can’t fix old eggs, or old sperm for that matter.