Journal Article

Fertility decline in urban and rural areas of developing countries

Lerch, M.
Population and Development Review, 45:2, 301–320 (2019)
Open Access


The study of rural-urban gradients in fertility is important to better understand population change in developing countries. We test the hypothesis and describe the underlying dynamics of an inverted U-shaped evolution in the rural-urban fertility ratio from a longitudinal perspective, using multiple surveys for 60 developing countries. The results confirmed an inverted U-shaped evolution in rural excess fertility, which is driven by an earlier and strong fertility decline in urban areas, the urban-rural lag in the transition onsets and a faster pace of decline in the early stage of the rural transition when compared to that in the more advanced stage reached in urban areas. Rural-to-urban migrants also play a role at different stages of the fertility transition. The implications of these results for our understanding of the process of urban population growth and of the international variation in the pace of fertility transitions are discussed.

Keywords: fertility decline, urbanization
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.