Parity, Timing and Level of Fertility: A Comparative Study on Mean Age at Childbearing in China, Japan and South Korea
Using fertility data from national surveys and population censuses for China, Japan and South Korea, this study analyzes the levels and trends of mean age at childbearing (MAC) in the three countries from 1990 to 2015. After using the decomposition technique to isolate the effects of parity composition and childbearing schedule in each of the three countries, the article presents a quantitative examination of the factors that underlie dynamic changes and cross-national differences of MACs. Results indicate that the MAC of China experienced a decrease between 1990 and 1995, followed by sustained growth afterwards. The increase of MAC in China has been driven by the postponement of childbearing and changes in parity composition, with the former playing a larger role. The mechanisms underlying the patterns since 2010 deserve special attention. Compared with Japan and South Korea, China has had relatively lower MAC during the last 25 years; the three countries demonstrate different patterns in terms of the roles of parity composition and birth timing. The accuracy of MAC in identifying the timing of period fertility and the policy implications of timing on upturning fertility level are discussed.
Key wordsMean age at childbearing Parity composition Fertility postponement Low fertility level Population of East Asia
This research is supported by the Project Study on Family Transition in China (16JJD840013) of the Key Research Centers of Minister of Education.
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