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The number of births in each state and in the whole of Australasia, in quinquennial periods from 1861 to 1900, was as follows :

State.

1861-65. 1866-70. 1871-75. 1876-80. 1881-85. 1886-90. 1891-95. 1896-190).

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The
average
birth-rates

per thousand of population for each state during the same periods were as follow :

State.

1861-65. 1866-70. 1871-75. 1876-80. 1881-85. 1886-90. 1891-95. 1896-19).

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It is a matter of common knowledge that for some years past the birth-rate in Australasia has been declining, and so important is the subject-not only as regards the growth of the population, but also as affecting general progress—that in 1899 the author made a special investigation into the question of childbirth in Australia, but more particularly with reference to New South Wales. The conclusions arrived at with respect to that state, however, may be held to obtain for all the others, seeing that the conditions of living do not differ materially in any of them. During the course of the investigation it was found, first, that for all women the proportion of fecund marriages is decreasing ; second, that amongst fecund women the birth-rate is much reduced as compared with what it was twenty years ago, and third, that Australian-born women do not bear so many children as the European women who have emigrated to these states. Further investigation amply bears out the first and second conclusions, but the inferior fecundity amongst Australian women is open to doubt, more extended observation rather supporting the opposite view. It was also found that the decline had been persistent and regular since 1881, and this restriction of births in a young country like Australia, where immigration is discouraged, is a matter which must have far-reaching results although its economic effects are only beginning to be seen, and should claim the serious consideration of all thoughtful people.

Particulars relating to illegitimate births will be found in the chapter headed “Social Condition."

DEATH, The following table shows the total number of deaths and the rate per thousand of the population during the year 1901 —

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The death-rate of Australia is much below that of any of the European states, and is steadily declining. Every year sees an advance in the sanitary condition of the people in the large centres of population, and to this cause may be ascribed the greater part of the improvement in the death-rate shown in the following tables, but there are other canses. The decline in the birth-rate elsewhere alluded to bas an immediate effect on the death-rates. In ordinary years about 30 per cent. of the deaths are of children under one year, and the decline in the birth-rate from 35 to 27 per thousand, which has happened during the last ten years, means a reduction of 1 per thousand in the death-rate.

Comparing the death-rate of males and females separately, New Zealand shows the lowest rates amongst both sexes, followed by Tasmania. South Australia has the third position in regard to general rate, but the highest rate for males.

The number of deaths in each state and in the whole of Australasia, in quinquennial periods from 1861 to 1900, is shown in the following

table :

State.

1861-65. 1866-70. 1871-75. 1876-80. 1881-85. 1886-90. 1891-95. 1896-1900.

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Commomwealth 105,956 122,550 139,1-10 | 162,374 192,760 217, 227

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The average death-rates of each state for the periods shown in the above table are given below, but the statement does not afford a just comparison between them as no account is taken of the ages of the people :

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If this table be compared with that showing the birth-rates, it will be observed that the experience of Australasia corresponds with that of other countries, viz., that a low birth-rate and a low death-rate accompany each other, so that although the birth-rate has been declining it has had an effect in reducing the death-rate, as indicated on the preceding page, and the balance in favour of births has not been reduced so much as it might have been. From the next table, which shows the mean natural increase in various countries during the decennial period 1890–1899, it will be seen that the case of Australasia is much better than that of any of the countries of the United Kingdom or Europe, for notwithstanding that the birth-rate of these countries in some cases is higher, the death rate is so much higher as to more than outweigh any advantage in that respect.

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In regard to the above table it must be stated that, had the figures of any of the last four years been taken as the basis of comparison, the gain by natural increase in Australasia would have been below that of some European countries, where the decline in the birth-rate, although distinctly evident, has not been so great as in Australasia.

Index OF MORTALITY.

So far consideration has only been given to the actual death-rates as they are obtained by taking the proportion which the number of deaths bears to the number of inhabitants. It is well known, however, that the death-rate of a country is affected by more than the salubrity of its climate, the degree of perfection to which the sanitary condition of its cities and towns and villages has been brought, and the nature of the industrial pursuits of its people. It is known that the ages of the people considerably affect the death-rate of a country; that, for instance, one which has a large proportion of young people will, other things being equal, have a lower death-rate than another which has a comparatively large proportion of old persons; and it is this fact that statistical science now seeks to take into account in establishing the rates of mortality of the various countries of the world. In order to have a comparison of the mortality of the principal countries on a uniform basis? the International Statistical Institute, in its 1895 session, held at Berne, decided to recommend the population of Sweden, in fiv groups, as ascertained at the census of 1890, as the standard population, by which the index of mortality should be calculated. Applying the co-efficient of mortality in each age-group in the Commonwealth and New Zealand to the age constitution of the standard population, the “ index of mortality,” as distinguished from the actual " death-rate,” is found as given below for each of the two years 1899–1900. How greatly the ages of the people of a country affect its mortality will be evident from the fact that whereas in 1900 the death-rates in Australasia ranged from 9:43 in New Zealand to 12:76 in Western Australia, a difference of 3.33 per thousand, the range of the indexes of mortality was 4:16 per thousand, namely, from 11.61 in New Zealanı to 15.77 in Western Australia.

State.

1899.

1900.

15.34

16:13

15.23

· New South Wales

Victoria
Queensland.
South Australia
Western Australia ..
Tasmania ...
New Zealand.....

15.05

14:57
14.82
14.25
12.98
15.77
14:56
11.61

19:37
16 64
12:42

Australasia

15.20

14:01

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