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Low and Lower Fertility: Variations across Developed Countries


Rindfuss, Ronald R. & Choe, Minja Kim (2015). Low and Lower Fertility: Variations across Developed Countries. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.


Over the past few decades, countries around the world have experienced rapid economic growth along with far-reaching changes in social and political conditions. In many countries, these developments have been accompanied by fertility declines to very low levels. Today, the total fertility rates (TFR) for most economically developed countries range from less than 1.0 to 2.1 children per woman. As recently as 20–30 years ago, women in some of these countries were having, on average, four or more children. Within the general trend toward lower fertility, current fertility levels and the pace of fertility decline have been widely diverse. This diversity is important because total fertility rates of 1.2 or 2.1 children per woman have very different effects on population age structure and population growth, as well as important implications for institutions and policies. As a result, fertility levels and trends have captured the attention of demographers and policymakers alike. Research, however, has yet to produce a comprehensive understanding of fertility behavior across low-fertility countries. Early in 2013, the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHASA) and the East-West Center agreed to collaborate on a project to improve understanding of the patterns and causes of fertility decline in various social, economic, cultural, and political settings and to consider the associated policy implications. The project identified low-fertility countries with varying fertility levels and trends, cultural backgrounds, social patterns, and economic conditions. For each country selected, an expert scholar was invited to write a country paper and participate in a series of workshops for discussions with experts from other countries. The essays in this volume are revised versions of the papers presented at the first workshop of the project, held at the East-West Center in December 2013. The papers in this first volume address the fertility situation in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United States. The second volume, based on papers presented at a second workshop that was held at the East-West Center in August 2014, will discuss the factors that are influencing fertility in Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Spain, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. It is hoped that the collection of papers presented in these two volumes will serve as an important reference point for all those interested in fertility variation across economically advanced countries.


Reference Type

Edited Book

Year Published



Rindfuss, Ronald R.
Choe, Minja Kim