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New cohort fertility forecasts for the developed world

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  • Mikko Myrskylä

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Joshua R. Goldstein

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Yen-hsin Alice Cheng

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

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    Abstract

    The 1970s worries of the "population bomb" were replaced in the 1990s with concerns of population aging driven by falling birth rates. Across the developed world, the nearly universally-used fertility indicator, the period total fertility rate, fell well below two children per woman. However, declines in period fertility have largely been an artifact of later – but not necessarily less – childbearing. We produce new estimates of the actual number of children women have over their lifetimes – cohort fertility – for 37 developed countries. Our results suggest that family size has remained high in many "low fertility" countries. For example, cohort fertility averages 1.8 for the 1975 birth cohort in the 37 countries for which average period total fertility rate was only 1.5 in 2000. Moreover, we find that the long-term decline in cohort fertility has flattened or reversed in all world regions previously characterized by low fertility. These results are robust to statistical forecast uncertainty and the impact of the late 2000s recession. An application of the new forecasts analyzing the determinants of cohort fertility finds that the key dimensions of development that have been hypothesized to be important for fertility – general socioeconomic development, per capita income, and gender equality – are all positively correlated with fertility for the 1970s cohorts. Gender equality, however, emerges as the strongest determinant: where the gap in economic, political, and educational achievement between women and men is small, cohort fertility is high, whereas where the gap is large, fertility is low. Our new cohort fertility forecasts that document the flattening and even reversal of cohort fertility have large implications for the future of population aging and growth, particularly over the long term.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2012-014.

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    Length: 58 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2012-014

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    Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

    Related research

    Keywords: World; cohort fertility; developed areas; forecasts;

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    References

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    1. Tomas Frejka & Gavin W. Jones & Jean-Paul Sardon, 2010. "East Asian Childbearing Patterns and Policy Developments," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., The Population Council, Inc., vol. 36(3), pages 579-606.
    2. Anne Gauthier, 2007. "The impact of family policies on fertility in industrialized countries: a review of the literature," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 323-346, June.
    3. Smith, Stanley K., 1997. "Further thoughts on simplicity and complexity in population projection models," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 557-565, December.
    4. Carl Schmertmann, 2003. "A system of model fertility schedules with graphically intuitive parameters," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 9(5), pages 81-110, October.
    5. Angela Luci & Olivier Thevenon, 2010. "Does economic development drive the fertility rebound in OECD countries?," Working Papers, HAL hal-00520948, HAL.
    6. Peter McDonald, 2000. "Gender Equity in Theories of Fertility Transition," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., The Population Council, Inc., vol. 26(3), pages 427-439.
    7. Anastasia Kostaki & Paraskevi Peristera, 2007. "Modeling fertility in modern populations," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 16(6), pages 141-194, March.
    8. Bruce Sacerdote & James Feyrer, 2008. "Will the Stork Return to Europe and Japan? Understanding Fertility Within Developed Nations," NBER Working Papers 14114, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Tomas Frejka & Gérard Calot, 2001. "Cohort Reproductive Patterns in Low-Fertility Countries," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(1), pages 103-132.
    10. Gunnar Andersson & Marit Rønsen & Lisbeth B. Knudsen & Trude Lappegård & Gerda Neyer & Kari Skrede & Kathrin Teschner & Andres Vikat, 2009. "Cohort Fertility Patterns in the Nordic Countries," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 20(14), pages 313-352, April.
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    Cited by:
    1. Stichnoth, Holger & Yeter, Mustafa, 2013. "Cultural influences on the fertility behaviour of first- and second-generation immigrants in Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research 13-023, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.

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