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Last Updated: Friday, 2 June 2006, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Australia celebrates baby boom
Pregnant woman
Australians had been urged to do their bit for the population
Australia's government has claimed the credit for a baby boom, after a government campaign encouraged people to have more children.

The country had 261,400 births in 2005, the highest number since 1992, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.

Treasurer Peter Costello urged Australians to have more children two years ago, concerned about the country's ageing population.

He introduced tax breaks for non-working parents and other payments.

As part of the drive, he called for parents to "have one for mum, one for dad, and one for the country".

Mr Costello conceded on Friday that the birth rate, up 2.4% on the previous year, also reflected the good economic conditions Australia is enjoying.

"The number of births also reflects a growing level of confidence in Australia's future, the fact that families have been experiencing a high level of economic security under the coalition government," he said.

Many developed countries have experienced a dipping birth rate in recent years.

On Thursday, Japan announced its national fertility rate, which measures the number of children an average woman is expected to give birth to over her lifetime, dropped to a record low of 1.25 in 2005.

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