The end of "lowest-low" fertility?
Population and Development Review, 35:4, 663–699 (2009)
Period fertility rates fell to previously unseen levels in a large number of countries beginning in the early 1990s. The persistence of Total Fertility Rates below 1.3 raised the possibility of dramatic, rapid population aging and decline. We study the recent widespread turn-around in so-called “lowest-low” fertility countries in Europe and East Asia. The number of countries with period TFR below 1.3 fell from 21 in 2003 to five in 2008. Moreover, the upturn in the period TFR was not confined to lowest-fertility countries, but affected the whole developed world. We explore the demographic explanations for the recent rise in fertility stemming from fertility timing effects as well as economic, policy, and social factors. Although the current economic crisis may suppress fertility in the short-run, we conclude that formerly lowest-low fertility countries should continue to see increase in fertility as the transitory effects of shifts to later motherhood become less important.