Indonesia’s Fertility Levels, Trends and Determinants: Dilemmas of Analysis

  • Terence H. HullEmail author
Part of the Demographic Transformation and Socio-Economic Development book series (DTSD, volume 5)


The 1971 Indonesian Population Census revealed that the total fertility rate was high and economic analysis showed that large family sizes constituted a heavy burden on both individual households and the national economy. The technocratic team charged with improving the economy under a New Order Government had convinced military leaders in 1968 to undertake a program of population control, in part with the assistance of foreign agencies. By 1990 the fertility rate had been cut in half, and the international community had praised the Indonesian family planning program as an exemplary success story. A growing number and range of data sources showed continuing declines in fertility. Some provinces and large cities achieved sub-replacement levels of childbearing, and across the country steady declines in family size were recorded. Dramatic social changes occurred between 1990 and 2010: authoritarian government was displaced by forces for democratic reform, centralized government was replaced by a radical decentralization of financial control to the district level, and schooling programs achieved near universal primary, and greatly expanded secondary levels of education. It was expected that the 2010 Census would authoritatively document the continuation of fertility and mortality declines and the steady progress of a demographic transition that would consolidate Indonesia’s status as a middle-income country. Instead the results posed a series of inconsistencies, contradictions and challenges. In this chapter the innovations and initial results of the Indonesian Census are examined in the context of major national surveys to show how fertility appears to have reversed long-standing trends. The findings serve to highlight the need for careful comparison among multiple data sources and multiple methodologies before attempting to reach firm conclusions about fertility levels.


Total Fertility Rate Population Census Family Planning Program Decennial Census Census Number 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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