MPIDR Working Paper
Forecasting of cohort fertility by educational level in countries with limited data availability: the case of Brazil
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2021-011, 33 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (June 2021)
The Brazilian period fertility rate (PTFR) dropped from six to 1.8 between 1950 and 2010. Due to the shifts in the timing of fertility, the PTFR might be providing a misleading picture of fertility levels. Moreover, the national average hides important educational differences, as in 2010, the PTFR was 2.3 among the lower educated, whereas it had fallen to 1.5 among the higher educated. The consequences of these changes for the cohort total fertility rate (CTFR) – a measure that is free from tempo distortions – and for the educational differences in completed fertility have not been previously studied. Due to the scarcity of time series of fertility rates, the application of CTFR forecasting methods outside of high-income countries (HICs) has been rare, and has been largely limited to population-level analysis. We use four Brazilian censuses to forecast the CTFR for the total population and by educational level using rates reconstructed with indirect techniques. The results of four forecasting methods indicate that the CTFR is likely to decline to 2.1 for the 1980 cohort, and to 1.9 for the 1984 cohort. Educational differences in the CTFR are likely to remain stark – at between 0.7 and 0.9 depending on the cohort and the method – and to be larger than they are in HICs with comparable CTFRs. We show how the CTFR can be forecasted, including by educational level, in settings with limited data. Finally, we call for more research on the educational differences in completed fertility in low- and middle-income countries.
Keywords: Brazil, census data, cohort fertility, education, forecasts