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New cohort fertility forecasts for the developed world

Author

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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)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Mikko Myrskylä & Joshua R. Goldstein & Yen-hsin Alice Cheng, 2012. "New cohort fertility forecasts for the developed world," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2012-014, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2012-014
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Paraskevi Peristera & Anastasia Kostaki, 2007. "Modeling fertility in modern populations," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 16(6), pages 141-194, March.
    2. Peter McDonald, 2000. "Gender Equity in Theories of Fertility Transition," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 26(3), pages 427-439.
    3. James Feyrer & Bruce Sacerdote & Ariel Dora Stern, 2008. "Will the Stork Return to Europe and Japan? Understanding Fertility within Developed Nations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 3-22, Summer.
    4. Angela Luci & Olivier Thévenon, 2010. "Does economic development drive the fertility rebound in oecd countries ?," Working Papers 167, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED).
    5. Tomas Frejka & Gavin W. Jones & Jean-Paul Sardon, 2010. "East Asian Childbearing Patterns and Policy Developments," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 36(3), pages 579-606.
    6. Anne Gauthier, 2007. "The impact of family policies on fertility in industrialized countries: a review of the literature," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 26(3), pages 323-346, June.
    7. Tomas Frejka & Gérard Calot, 2001. "Cohort Reproductive Patterns in Low-Fertility Countries," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(1), pages 103-132.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maria Rita Testa & Stuart Gietel-Basten, 2014. "Certainty of meeting fertility intentions declines in Europe during the 'Great Recession'," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 31(23), pages 687-734, September.
    2. Yeter, Mustafa & Stichnoth, Holger, 2013. "Cultural influences on the fertility behaviour of first- and second-generation immigrants in Germany," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79882, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    World; cohort fertility; developed areas; forecasts;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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