Infancy and Culture: An International Review and Source Book

By Hiram E.Fitzgerald; Rosalind B.Johnson et al. | Go to book overview
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10

AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALANDER INFANTS

SPARELY STUDIED IN THE LAND DOWN UNDER

Carol Barnes Johnson

The countries of Australia and New Zealand share similar ancestry, geography, language, and colonization histories. Both lands were, and continue to be, the recipients of a great number of immigrants from the United Kingdom and Europe beginning in the late eighteenth century. This influx of English-speaking settlers fundamentally changed the lives of the indigenous peoples. The Maoris of New Zealand and the Aborigines and Torres Straight Islanders of Australia have undergone much abuse, at one time threatening extinction of the Aborigines. The child population in both countries is decreasing relative to the overall population, as fertility rates and the recent number of incoming immigrants abates. The research on infants in these countries is sparse, and only eight articles surfaced in the citation data bases scanned for this volume.

Australia is a relatively wealthy country of over 17 million people (Boss, Edwards & Pittman, 1995). The indigenous peoples, the Aborigine and Toree Straight Islanders, represent only 1.6% of the population, whereas those of European decent, particularly the United Kingdom and Ireland, represent over one-half of the total population (Boss, Edwards & Pittman, 1995). In this century immigration to Australia has been high, and since World War II immigration has provided for a large percentage of the overall population growth in Australia. In 1991, 22.3% of the population was born overseas (Shu et al., 1994), a higher number than at any time since the turn of the century (Castles, 1992). In the 1990s the origin of migration has shifted from Europe to Asia. Of the immigrants to Australia in 1991-1992, 40.8% of those were from Southeast and Northeast Asia (Boss, Edwards & Pittman, 1995).

The population of children 15 years of age and younger has grown only 2% from 1972, representing a decline in the total population from 29% in 1972 to 22% in 1992 (Boss, Edwards & Pittman, 1995). There has been

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