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Cooks’ fertility rates decline

Thursday 23 February 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Health, Local, National


Cooks’ fertility rates decline
A happy six-month-old baby Israel Vaurasi from Vaka Puaikura at the Paunu Day yesterday. MELINA ETCHES/22082502

There has been a slight dip in the fertility rates for Cook Islands women, according to the latest Census.

In the recently-released Census 2021, women were asked a variety of questions about their fertility. The average number of children ever born to all women (average parity) was 2.4 children per woman, a decline compared to 2.5 in the 2016 Census. 

While women in the 15 to 19-year-old age group had on average, only 0.1 children (every tenth woman had one child), women aged 45-49 had nearly three children, and women aged 80 years or older had on average 5 or more children. The average parity increases with the age of women. 

The Census questions included:

Have you ever given birth to a child even if the child had later died?

If yes, how many babies have you given birth to?

How many are still living?

What was the date of birth of your first child?

What was the date of birth of your last or youngest child?

According to the results, there were a total of 5805 women aged 15 years and older, and out of this 4149 (71 per cent) had at least given birth to a child, and 29 per cent (1736) have not had a child. 

Based on the number of childless women aged 50 years and older, childlessness was about 15 per cent, according to the Census document. 

Of all women who had children, most had 2-3 children. Two per cent or 80 women had 10 or more children.

Of those women who have had children, 46 per cent had their first child between the ages of 20 and 24 years, and about 26 per cent had their last child between the ages of 30 and 34 years. 

About 0.6 per cent of women had their first child below the age of 15 years and about 1.4 per cent of women had their last child at the age of 45 years and over. Two per cent or 80 women had 10 or more children.