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OECD Factbook 2013: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics
branch Population and Migration
branch Population
    branch Fertility

Together with mortality and migration, fertility is an element of population growth, which reflects both the causes and effects of economic and social developments.

Definition

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.

Comparability

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.

Overview

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.

 

Sources

Further information
Analytical publications
Statistical publications
Methodological publications
Online databases
Websites
Indicator in PDF Acrobat PDF page

Table
Total fertility rates
    Table in Excel

Figures
Trends in total fertility rates Figure in Excel
Trends in total fertility rates
Total fertility rates Figure in Excel
Total fertility rates