Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 287–304 | Cite as

The Emergence of Two Distinct Fertility Regimes in Economically Advanced Countries

  • Ronald R. Rindfuss
  • Minja Kim Choe
  • Sarah R. Brauner-OttoEmail author


Beginning in 2000, in economically advanced countries, a remarkable bifurcation in fertility levels has emerged, with one group in the moderate range of period total fertility rates, about 1.9, and the other at 1.3. The upper branch consists of countries in Northern and Western Europe, Oceania and the United States; the lower branch includes Central, Southern, and Eastern Europe, and East and Southeast Asia. A review of the major theories for low-fertility countries reveals that none of them would have predicted this specific bifurcation. We argue that those countries with fertility levels close to replacement level have institutional arrangements, and related policies, that make it easier, not easy, for women to combine the worker and mother roles. The institutional details are quite different across countries, suggesting that multiple combinations of institutional arrangements and policies can lead to the same country-level fertility outcome. Canada, the only exception to this bifurcation, illustrates the importance of the different institutional structures in Québec compared to the rest of Canada.


Fertility Developed countries Institutions Policies 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Carolina Population CenterUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.East-West CenterHonoluluUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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