Demographic Data

At a Glance Projects Publications Team


Human Fertility Database

Conducted by Dmitri A. Jdanov; Aiva Jasilioniene, Inna Danilova, László Németh, Karolin Kubisch, Ainhoa Alustiza Galarza, Pavel Grigoriev; in Collaboration with Tomáš Sobotka, Kryštof Zeman (both: Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna Institute of Demography, Austria)

Detailed Description

Data on fertility in industrialized countries are fragmented and not easily comparable across countries, time periods, and cohorts. This applies particularly to parity-specific fertility indicators, which are crucial for understanding fertility behavior. These limitations are major obstacles to research and policy-making related to ongoing changes in fertility patterns and the future prospects for childbearing. The limitations also become more salient over time as more attention is being paid to the issues surrounding low fertility in industrialized countries by policy makers, the media, and the wider public. Such issues can be addressed properly only when high-quality data on both period and cohort fertility become available for these countries.

The Human Fertility Database (HFD,, officially launched in September 2009, is a joint project of the MPIDR and the Vienna Institute of Demography. It aims to fill the gap in fertility data availability and comparability and to provide free and user-friendly access to detailed and high-quality data on period and cohort fertility for the international research community and other interested users. The HFD is continually updated, and more countries will be added over time. However, it will be limited to populations with complete birth registration. Following the example of the Human Mortality Database (HMD,, the HFD guiding principles are comparability, flexibility, accessibility, and reproducibility. This way, the HFD fully adheres to the concept of Open Data.

The HFD is entirely based on one type of initial data: officially registered birth counts by calendar year, age (and/or cohort) of the mother, and (whenever possible) biological birth order. These data (together with data on population size and deaths extracted from the HMD to estimate population exposures, selected population censuses, and register data) are processed and calculated using a uniform methodology. The procedure is described in detail in the HFD Methods Protocol. The major HFD outputs include period and cohort data on non-order and (when available) order-specific births; unconditional and conditional fertility rates; fertility tables; and selected aggregate indicators, such as total fertility rates, mean ages at childbearing, and parity progression ratios.

Indispensable contributions are provided by country experts who have been asked to help by collecting fertility data and preparing documentation for individual countries and by describing their statistical systems and the peculiarities of their fertility data. The HFD fully documents the original data received from national statistical offices, research organizations, and publications.  

The HFD has become an important and valued resource of detailed and best-quality population-level fertility data for developed countries. Currently, it has more than 7,000 registered users and was cited in more than 400 scientific publications (for a non-exhaustive list of publications, please see

Key events related to the project are:

Work on updating the data series has been supported in part by the Max Planck Society within the framework of the project "On the edge of societies: New vulnerable populations, emerging challenges for social policies and future demands for social innovation. The experience of the Baltic Sea States" (20162021).”

Research Keywords:

Data and Surveys, Demographic Change, Family Behavior, Fertility Development

Region keywords:



Čipin, I.; Grigoriev, O.; Jasilioniene, A.:
Rostock, Vienna. (2018)    
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)    
Klüsener, S.; Jasilioniene, A.:
Rostock; Vienna. (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)
Houle, R.; Kubisch, K.:
Rostock; Vienna. (2016)
Jasilioniene, A.; Sobotka, T.; Jdanov, D. A.; Zeman, K.; Kostova, D.; Andreev, E. M.; Grigoriev, P.; Shkolnikov, V. M.:
International Journal of Epidemiology 45:4, 1077–1078e. (2016)
Jasilioniene, A.; Stankūnienė, V.; Jasilionis, D.:
Rostock; Vienna. (2016)
Kingkade, W. W.; Jasilioniene, A.; Jdanov, D. A.:
Rostock; Vienna. (2016)
Kostova, D.; Grigoriev, P.:
Rostock; Vienna. (2016)
Kreyenfeld, M. R.; Pötzsch, O.; Kubisch, K.:
MPIDR Technical Report TR-2013-002. (2013)
Shkolnikov, V. M.; Jdanov, D. A.:
MPIDR Technical Report TR-2012-001. (2012)
Jdanov, D. A.; Nash, E. J.:
MPIDR Technical Report TR-2011-003. (2011)
Nash, E. J.; Jasilioniene, A.; Andreev, E. M.; Zeman, K.:
MPIDR Technical Report TR-2011-001. (2011)
Goldstein, J. R.; Sobotka, T.; Jasilioniene, A.:
Demografische Forschung Aus Erster Hand 7:1, 1–2. (2010)
Nash, E. J.; Jasilioniene, A.; Andreev, E. M.:
MPIDR Technical Report TR-2010-007. (2010)
Jasilioniene, A.; Jdanov, D. A.; Sobotka, T.; Andreev, E. M.; Zeman, K.; Shkolnikov, V. M.; Goldstein, J. R.; Philipov, D.; Rodrígues, G.:
Rostock. (2009)
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.