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New Cohort Fertility Forecasts for the Developed World: Rises, Falls and Reversals

Publication year: 
Author (s): 
Myrskyla, Mikko, Goldstein, Joshua R, Chenge, Yen-Hsin, Alice
Corporate author: 
Population council
Publication details: 
New York, Population Council, 2013
Publication in: 
Population and Development Review, Vol. 39, No.1, March 2013, pp.31-56
Ep 1. BS/12700

With period fertility having risen in many low-fertility countries, an important emerging question is whether cohort fertility trends are also reversing. We produce new estimates of cohort fertility for 37 developed countries using a new, simple method that avoids the underestimation typical of previous approaches. Consistent with the idea that timing changes were largely responsible for the last decades' low period fertility, we find that family size has remained considerably higher than the period rates of 1.5 in many “low-fertility” countries, averaging about 1.8 children. Our forecasts suggest that the long-term decline in cohort fertility is flattening or reversing in many world regions previously characterized by low fertility. We document the marked increase of cohort fertility in the English-speaking world and in Scandinavia; signs of an upward reversal in many low-fertility countries, including Japan and Germany; and continued declines in countries such as Taiwan and Portugal. We include in our forecasts estimates of statistical uncertainty and the possible effects of the recent economic recession.