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The direction of contemporary fertility trends in the developed countries: further decline, plateau or upswing?

Tomas Frejka, Independent consultant
Jean-Paul Sardon, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

We demonstrate that the application of a set of cohort fertility measures and procedures in conjunction with a theoretical framework provides the most realistic understanding of contemporary fertility. An analysis for 36 low-fertility countries concludes: Childbearing has never been as low as at the outset of the 21st century. A moderate fertility decline is likely to continue during the first decade. A fertility increase in the foreseeable future is unlikely. Incipient signs of fertility plateaus are apparent. Rates of recuperation among older women are slowing down. A low fertility plateau might be reached in individual countries with completed cohort fertility as low as 1.3 or less and probably no higher than 2.0 births per woman. The analysis implies that increases of total period fertility rates, including those of adjusted TFRs, in most countries are not a reflection of increases in cohort childbearing, but a result of lesser postponement of births.

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Presented in Session 164: Prospects for below-replacement fertility