Together with mortality and migration, fertility
is an element of population growth, which reflects both the causes and effects of
economic and social developments.
The total fertility rate in a specific year is the
total number of children that would be born to each woman if she were to live to the
end of her child-bearing years and give birth to children in agreement with the
prevailing age-specific fertility rates.
The total fertility rate is generally computed by
summing up the age-specific fertility rates defined over a five-year interval.
Assuming there are no migration flows and that mortality rates remain unchanged, a
total fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman generates broad stability of the
population: it is also referred to as the “replacement fertility rate” as it ensures
replacement of the woman and her partner with another 0.1 children per woman to
counteract infant mortality.
Data are collected every year from national
statistical institutes. 2010 refers to 2009 for Canada and Chile and 1970 refers to
1980 for Brazil, Estonia and Israel.
Total fertility rates in OECD countries have
declined dramatically over the past few decades, falling on average from 2.7 in
1970 to 1.7 children per woman of childbearing age in the 2000s. In all OECD
countries, fertility rates declined for young women and increased at older ages. A
modest recovery in total fertility rates started in the early 2000s, to an average
level of 1.7 in 2010. The total fertility rate is below its replacement level of
2.1 in most OECD countries except Israel, Iceland and New Zealand, and in India,
South Africa and Indonesia.
The last few years have seen various trends
emerge in fertility rates. A drop in fertility rates has occurred, for example in
Australia, New Zealand, Spain and the United States, while rates have continued to
rise in Iceland, Israel, Sweden, and Switzerland. The increase in fertility
stopped in many other countries. The effect of the economic downturn is as yet
unknown, but persistent economic uncertainties can impact downward the number of
children women may have over their reproductive life.
For OECD member countries and Brazil, Russia
and South Africa: National statistical offices.