Vienna Institute of Demography Working Papers 01/2017
This study discusses fertility trends and variation in countries that have completed the transition from high to around-replacement fertility in the 1950s-1980s - especially in Europe, East Asia and North America - and summarises the key findings that are relevant for the countries with a more recent experience of fertility declines towards replacement level. A central finding is that there is no obvious theoretical or empirical threshold around which period fertility would tend to stabilise. Period fertility rates usually continue falling once the threshold of replacement fertility is crossed, often to very low levels. While cohort fertility rates frequently stabilise or change gradually, period fertility typically remains unstable. This instability also includes remarkable upturns and reversals in Total Fertility Rates (TFR), as experienced in many countries in Europe in the early 2000s. The long-lasting trend towards delayed parenthood is central for understanding the diverse, low and unstable post-transitional fertility patterns. In many countries in Europe this shift to a late childbearing pattern has negatively affected the TFR for more than four decades. Many of the emerging post-transitional countries and regions are likely to experience a similar shift during the next two to three decades, often depressing their TFRs to very low levels.
low fertility fertility transition fertility timing fertility decline post-transitional fertility postponement transition highly developed countries Europe East Asia