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Exploring the ‘True Value’ of Replacement Rate Fertility

  • Stuart Gietel-BastenEmail author
  • Sergei Scherbov
Research Briefs
  • 25 Downloads

Abstract

The concept of ‘replacement rate fertility’ [RRF] is widely known and referred to regularly in the popular, policy and academic literature. Sometimes presented as a ‘target’ or an ‘ideal’ fertility rate, it is usually specified as being a period total fertility rate [TFR] of ‘around 2.1’. This paper has two goals—firstly to explore the extent to which global contemporary RRF is, indeed, ‘around 2.1’; and secondly to evaluate this status a ‘target’ for national and international policymakers. We find that, in the first instance, global RRF is not 2.1; but the UN projection model suggests it will converge to this in the future. Skewed sex ratios at birth and high levels of maternal and adult mortality mean that RRF was significantly greater than 2.1 in the past, and is still the case for many countries today. We suggest that the real value of understanding and determining the value of TFR in any given territory is an indicator of human development. Rather than the popular notion of a ‘target’ TFR of ‘around 2.1’ as being an arbitrary (and ill-defined) aim for territorial population replacement, governments should aim to achieve a RRF of around 2.1, which indicated negligible mortality and a biologically normal sex ratio at birth.

Keywords

Replacement rate Fertility Mortality Inequality Sex ratio Human development Population growth 

Notes

Supplementary material

11113_2019_9561_MOESM1_ESM.docx (31 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 31 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Social ScienceThe Hong Kong University of Science and TechnologyKowloonPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.World Population ProgramInternational Institute for Applied Systems AnalysisLaxenburgAustria
  3. 3.Laboratory on Demography and Human CapitalRussian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public AdministrationMoscowRussia

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