Demographic Data

At a Glance Projects Publications Team


Human Fertility Collection

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

Detailed Description

The Human Fertility Collection (HFC) is a joint endeavor of the MPIDR and the Vienna Institute of Demography. It is a companion to the Human Fertility Database (HFD, and includes a range of fertility data that are valuable for fertility research but 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 based on 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 included are of high quality.

The HFC, by contrast, publishes fertility data for a greater number of countries, including those where vital statistics are of a lower quality. Unlike the HFD, the HFC relies on readily available fertility rates rather than original birth counts and is not limited to continuous time series of data. 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. It thus contains data of different quality levels and from different data sources.

Its geographic coverage is much broader than that of the HFD. Because it covers less developed parts of the world, the comparability and the reliability of HFC data are of a lower standard. Users are thus advised to use caution when determining the suitability of selected data for their research. However, like the HFD data, the HFC data are provided in a uniform format together with full references to their sources and documentation (typically 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 2019, the HFC was expanded to include male fertility data for countries for which such data are available. More fertility dimensions (e.g., region, country of birth, and marital status) and cohort fertility may be added to the HFC in the future.

In collaboration with Chinese researchers, the HFD/HFC team has devoted considerable efforts in collecting and assessing the quality of fertility data for China. The aim is to produce the best possible fertility estimates based on real (i.e., not model-based) data, which could be published in the HFC. This endeavor may eventually turn into a satellite fertility database for selected developing countries.

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. The database is updated on a regular basis.

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)
Mikhalskii, A. I.; Gorlischev, V. P.; Jdanov, D. A.; Grigoriev, P.:
In: Proceedings of the 11th IEEE International Conference "Application of Information and Communication Technologies" (AICT-2017), 420–424. Moscow: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. (2017)
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.