Demographic Data

At a Glance Projects Publications Team


Human Fertility Collection

Conducted by Dmitri A. Jdanov; Vladimir M. Shkolnikov, Olga Grigoriev, Aiva Jasilioniene, Pavel Grigoriev, Karolin Kubisch; in Collaboration with Tomáš Sobotka, Kryštof Zeman (both: Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna Institute of Demography, Austria), Anatoli Michalski (V.A. Trapeznikov Institute of Control Sciences of Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russian Federation)

Detailed Description

The Human Fertility Collection (HFC) is a joint endeavor of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and the Vienna Institute of Demography. It is a companion to the Human Fertility Database (HFD,, and it includes a range of fertility data that are valuable for fertility research, but that do not meet all of the HFD quality standards.

The HFD is entirely based on official vital statistics data. Data processing and the calculation of fertility indicators on the basis of these data are performed strictly by using uniform methodology and a set of very rigorous quality checks. The database is limited to countries with well-established statistical systems, and the data that are included are of high quality.

The HFC, by contrast, aims to publish fertility data for a greater number of countries, including those where vital statistics are of a somewhat lower quality. Unlike the HFD, the HFC relies on readily available fertility rates rather than original birth counts, and it is not limited to continuous time-series of data. Moreover, the data are assembled from various – not necessarily official – data sources; mainly online databases of national statistical offices, statistical and scientific publications, and data collections of individual researchers and research organizations. The HFC also provides long time-series of historical data. The HFC thus contains data of different quality levels and from different data sources.

The geographic coverage of the HFC is much broader than that of the HFD. Because it covers less developed parts of the world, the comparability and the reliability of the HFC data are of a lower standard. Users are thus advised use caution when determining on the suitability of selected data for their research purposes. However, like the HFD data, the HFC data are provided in a uniform format together with full references to their sources and documentation (typically in the form of original articles), when available. The full description of the HFC and methods used for  data harmonization are provided in the HFC Methods Protocol (

The HFC was officially launched in August 2013. Currently, it has period data on age-specific fertility rates, cumulative fertility rates, total fertility rates, and mean ages at birth for all birth orders combined and, when available, by birth order. In the future, the HFC will be expanded to include more fertility dimensions (e.g., region, country of birth, and marital status) as well as cohort fertility.

Enhancing the HFC methodology has been the other important aspect of efforts to improve the database The development of a new method for disaggregating abridged fertility data into a fine grid of ages has been prioritized. Currently, the HFC and the HFD use different splitting protocols. While both methods produce reliable fertility estimates, they are not free of limitations. Moreover, despite the differences between the HFD and the HFC, it would be reasonable to rely on a universal splitting protocol that could be applied to both the high-quality data of the HFD and the heterogeneous data of the HFC.

Research Keywords:

Demographic Change, Family Behavior, Fertility Development

Region keywords:



Gorlischev, V. P.; Grigoriev, P.; Michalski, A. I.:
MPIDR Technical Report TR-2018-001. (2018)
Grigoriev, P.; Michalski, A. I.; Gorlischev, V. P.; Jdanov, D. A.; Shkolnikov, V. M.:
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2018-001. (2018)
Michalski, A. I.; Grigoriev, P.; Gorlischev, V. P.:
MPIDR Technical Report TR-2018-002. (2018)
Grigorieva, O.; Jasilioniene, A.; Jdanov, D. A.; Grigoriev, P.; Sobotka, T.; Zeman, K.; Shkolnikov, V. M.:
Rostock; Vienna. (2015)
Goldstein, J. R.; Sobotka, T.; Jasilioniene, A.:
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2009-029. (2009)
Stankūnienė, V.; Jasilioniene, A.:
Demographic Research 19:20, 705–742. (2008)
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.