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  • 1. OECD Family Database www.oecd.org/social/family/databaseOECD - Social Policy Division - Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social AffairsLast updated 25/05/20121SF2.1: Fertility ratesDefinitions and methodologyThe Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in a specific year is the number of children that would be born to eachwoman if she were to live to the end of her childbearing years and if the likelihood of her giving birth tochildren at each age was the currently prevailing age-specific fertility rates. It is generally computed bysumming up the age-specific fertility rates defined over a five-year interval. Assuming there are nomigration flows and that mortality rates remain unchanged, a total fertility rate of 2.1 children per womangenerates broad stability of the population: it is also referred to as the “replacement fertility rate” as itensures replacement of the woman and her partner with another 0.1 percentage points to counteract infantmortality (CO1.1). The Completed Fertility Rate (CFR) presents the number of children actually born perwoman for a given cohort of women by the end of their childbearing years. Usually, women who are 45 (insome countries 49) or older are considered to have completed their childbearing years.Key FindingsChart SF2.1.A shows that in 2010 TFRs were well below the replacement rate in most countries, butexceed two children per woman in Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand and Turkey.Chart SF2.1.A: Total fertility rates in 19701, 1995 and 20102Countries are ranked in ascending order of fertility rates in 2010.1) 1975 for Malta; 1982 for Cyprus. 2) 2009 for Canada, Chile, Cyprus and Romania. 3) Footnote by Turkey: The information in thisdocument with reference to “Cyprus” relates to the southern part of the Island. There is no single authority representing both Turkishand Greek Cypriot people on the Island. Turkey recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Until a lasting andequitable solution is found within the context of United Nations, Turkey shall preserve its position concerning the “Cyprus issue”. 4)Footnote by all the European Union Member States of the OECD and the European Commission: The Republic of Cyprus isrecognized by all members of the United Nations with the exception of Turkey. The information in this document relates to the areaunder the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus. 5) The data for Israel are supplied by and under theresponsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the GolanHeights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.Sources: National Statistical Offices, 2012, and Eurostat Demographic Statistics, 2011.Other relevant indicators: Family size and composition (SF1.1); Mean age of mother at first childbirth (SF2.3); Share ofbirths outside marriage (SF2.4); Childlessness (SF2.5); and, Marriage and divorce rates (SF3.1).
  • 2. OECD Family Database www.oecd.org/social/family/databaseOECD - Social Policy Division - Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social AffairsLast updated 25/05/20122TFRs are the most common way of internationally comparing fertility rates across countries as thesedata are widely available. However, there are drawbacks to using TFRs in this way since they are sensitiveto both changes in the number and in the timing of births (SF2.3). Chart SF2.1.B shows the trends incompleted fertility rates which are available, at the latest, for women who were born in the mid-1960s. Itshows that the final number of children per women has decreased through cohorts in almost all countriesexcept in Denmark, Finland, Hungary, and the United States. The completed fertility rate is significantlybelow replacement level in almost all countries except in Australia, France, Norway, the Slovak Republicand the United States where it is close to 2 children per women. The completed fertility rate for the cohortof woman born in 1965 is above replacement level only in New Zealand.Chart SF2.1.B: Completed fertility rates cohorts of women born in 1950 and 19651Countries are ranked in descending order of cohort fertility rate of women born in 19501 Women born in 1962 in Japan and 1964 in FranceSource: National Statistical Offices, 2010, and Eurostat Demographic Statistics, 2010.Chart SF2.1.C compares the distribution of live births by child order for all live births in 2008. Itshows that the birth of a first child accounts for the majority (more than 50%) of births in France, Italy,Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain, but makes up a smaller proportion (around 40%) in Iceland; thecountry with the highest proportion of “third births” at around 19 such births per 100 births. The proportionof a fourth and subsequent birth is highest in Finland, Iceland, Ireland and the Slovak Republic.
  • 3. OECD Family Database www.oecd.org/social/family/databaseOECD - Social Policy Division - Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social AffairsLast updated 25/05/20123Chart SF2.1.C: Proportion of live births1by rank of children in 20082Countries are ranked in descending order of the prevalence of first births in all births in 2008.1 Birth order is set along the mother’s perspective.2 1997 for Italy; 2005 for Belgium and Denmark; 2006 for Germany, France and UK3 and 4, see notes 3 and 4 for Chart SF2.1.ASources: Eurostat Demographic Statistics, 2010.There have been large changes in the distribution of birth order from 1980 to 2008. Chart SF2.1.Dshows the changes in the proportion of births of respectively a first, second, third or higher order child inthe total of births, and the largest changes concern first births and third and more births. In most countries(on the left-hand side of the chart), the proportion of births of a first child have increased, while the shareof births of a third or higher order child has fallen. This points to a significant decrease in the number oflarger families. Changes in the proportion of second births have been smaller, except in Bulgaria where ithas significantly decreased. The share of first births has decreased in a more limited number of countries(Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Luxembourg, and Norway) where the proportion of a third or subsequent birthhas increased.
  • 4. OECD Family Database www.oecd.org/social/family/databaseOECD - Social Policy Division - Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social AffairsLast updated 25/05/20124Chart SF2.1.D: Changes in the distribution of births by rank of childrenPercentage point change in the proportion of given birth order from 1980 to 200811 1997 for Italy; 2005 for Denmark; 2006 for UK.2 and 3, see notes 3 and 4 for Chart SF2.1.ASources: Eurostat Demographic Statistics, 2010.
  • 5. OECD Family Database www.oecd.org/social/family/databaseOECD - Social Policy Division - Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social AffairsLast updated 25/05/20125Chart SF2.1.E shows that across OECD countries the relationship between female employment andfertility has changed over the past 30 years. In 1980 there was a clear negative correlation between femaleemployment and fertility rates. In 2010, apart from the general increase in female employment, OECDcountries with higher rates of female employment also had relatively high fertility rates. Clearly, the degreeof incompatibility between paid work and having children has diminished, but there are substantial cross-country differences: combining childrearing and being in employment is most difficult in the EasternEuropean and Mediterranean countries, as well as in Japan, Korea and Mexico, and seems most compatiblein Australia, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Nordic countries, New Zealand, the United Kingdom andthe United States.Chart SF2.1.E: Cross-country relation between female employment rates and total fertility rates1980 20101Note: The y-axis (total fertility rate) scale is 1.0-3.5 for 1980 and 1.0-2.2 for 2010.1 See note (2) for Chart SF2.1.ASources: Employment rates - OECD Employment Outlook UN World Statistics Pocketbook, 2010; Fertility rates – see Chart SF2.1.A.Comparability and data issuesThere are some limitations in using the TFR to compare trends in fertility since changes in theaggregate can relate to either a change in family size and/or a change in the timing of births. Completedfertility rates can be used to consider the final number of children per women but only when women havereached the end their reproductive life. Changes in the distribution of births by rank of children alsoillustrate the changes in fertility patterns, since a reduction of family size is associated with a decrease inthe share of higher order births. The distribution of births is, however, also sensitive to timing effects. Acloser look at the timing of births is needed to obtain a more comprehensive view of fertility behaviour andchanges over time (SF2.3).Sources and further reading: D’Addio, A.C and M. Mira d’Ercole (2005), “Trends and Determinants of Fertility Rates inOECD Countries: the Role of Policies”, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Paper, No. 27, Paris; OECDSociety at a Glance (Edition 2006); EUROSTAT (2006), Demographic Statistics: Fertility, Eurostat Metadata in SDDSformat, http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_SDDS/EN/demo_fer_sm1.htm; Nimwegen N. van, and C. Beets(2008), “The demographic situation in the European Union”, in Demographic Trends, Socio-Economic Impacts andPolicy Implications in the European Union, Monitoring report for the European Observatory on the Social Situation –2007; Kohler, Hans-Peter, Francesco C. Billari and José Antonio Ortega (2002). "The Emergence of Lowest-LowFertility in Europe during the 1990s." Population and Development Review 28(4), 641-680. Kögel T. (2004), “Did theassociation between fertility and female employment within OECD countries really change its sign?”, Journal ofPopulation Economics, 17:45-65; Eurostat Demographic Statistics, 2010; and UN World Statistics Pocketbook, 2010.