Study finds fertility below replacement rate is 'new normal'

Catholic News Agency | 10/15/2019 | Staff
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Washington D.C., Oct 15, 2019 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- Fertility rates around the world are stalling at below the replacement level, a new study has shown, as countries with higher fertility rates have shown sharp decreases.

A study from the Institute for Family Studies, authored by Lyman Stone, released Oct. 15, analyzed fertility rates from 2017, 2018, and projected 2019 rates for different regions around the world. Stone found that countries with fertility rates above 1.6 or 1.7 children were seeing decreasing rates over the past decade, but countries with fertility rates below that number were either stabalizing, or even increasing in some areas.

Declines - Countries - Birth - Rates - Children

“Current declines are probably not just cyclical, but likely reflect a ‘new normal’ with most countries having birth rates between 1.4 and 1.9 children per woman,” wrote Stone.

Analyzing the most recent total fertility rate (TFR) data for each country, Stone found the steepest average annual changes in TFR since 2007 were in Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Guatemala, and Honduras. The biggest gains were in Mongolia, Lithuania, Poland, and Russia.

Figure - Fertility - Highest-fertility - Regions - Regions

“The figure shows fertility fell the most in the highest-fertility regions, and it rose somewhat in lower-fertility regions. Put in statistical terms, the amount of variation among these 61 countries declined by half between 2007 and 2019,” Stone said.

“What we appear to be seeing is a global convergence around fertility rates of 1.6 or 1.7 children,” he said.

Fertility - Rates - Worldwide - Stone - Progress

While fertility rates are trending downward worldwide, Stone wrote that there has been significant progress made on increasing fertility rates in countries that had previously been facing demographic challenges. Japan, for example, now has the highest fertility rate in East Asia, with the exceptions of North Korea and Mongolia.

“The perception of Japan as an ultra-low fertility, unfriendly-to-families, closed-to-immigration country is increasingly outdated,” said Stone. In order to...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Catholic News Agency
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