The Emergence of Two Distinct Fertility Regimes in Economically Advanced Countries

Ronald R. Rindfuss, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and East-West Center
Minja K. Choe, East-West Center
Sarah R. Brauner-Otto, McGill University

Below replacement period fertility is not new, but since 2000 two dramatically different fertility patterns have emerged among the 28 economically advanced countries that had below replacement fertility in 1995. Between 1981 and 1999, there is considerable diversity, in terms of level, slope and rebounding from low points, among the total fertility rates (TFR) for these countries. Since 2000 they have converged to two quite different total fertility levels (TFR): a mean of 1.9 and 1.3, with only one country, Canada, between 1.50 and 1.75. The likely reason for the divergent paths is that those countries with TFRs above 1.75 have institutional arrangements that make it somewhat easier for young adults to combine parental and worker roles in contrast to those countries with TFRs at or below 1.50. The Canadian exception is instructive. Unlike most other countries, some Canadian provinces, and most notably Quebec, have institutional arrangements that differ from those of the federal government.

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Presented in Session 124: Low Fertility and Childlessness