Is low fertility a twenty-first-century demographic crisis?


Nearly half of the world’s population in 2000 lived in countries with fertility rates at or below replacement level, and nearly all countries will reach low fertility levels in the next two decades. Concerns about low fertility, fertility that is well below replacement, are widespread. But there are both persistent rationales for having children and institutional adjustments that can make the widespread intentions for two children attainable, even in increasingly individualistic and egalitarian societies.

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An earlier version of this paper was presented as the presidential address at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, Minneapolis, May 2, 2003. For comments on previous drafts, I thank Thomas DiPrete, Charles Hirschman, M. E. Hughes, David Brady, Samuel Preston, Ronald Rindfuss, Herbert Smith, and Etienne van de Walle. This research was supported by Grants R01 HD-041042 and R03 HD-41035 from the National Institutes of Health.

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Philip Morgan, S. Is low fertility a twenty-first-century demographic crisis?. Demography 40, 589–603 (2003) doi:10.1353/dem.2003.0037

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  • Total Fertility Rate
  • Replacement Level
  • Fertility Transition
  • Nonmarital Birth
  • World Population Prospect