The Low Fertility Future? Projections Based on Different Methods Suggest Long-Term Persistence of Low Fertility

Stuart Gietel-Basten, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Tomáš Sobotka, Vienna Institute of Demography
Kryštof Zeman, Vienna Institute of Demography

Population projections by the United Nations released in 2017 envision in their main variant that fertility rates in most countries will range between 1.75 and 2.0 by the end of this century. Are population experts in a broad agreement about the persistence of sub-replacement fertility in countries where fertility reached low levels? We compare the latest fertility projections by the UN for 2050 with two alternatives – expert assessments about the future of fertility collected by the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital in 2011 and the projections prepared by national statistical offices. We focus on countries with population above 30 million, which have reached below-replacement fertility by 2015. Our analysis reveals a widespread consensus on the continuation of low fertility, combined with disagreements about how low is fertility likely to stay in the future. Specifically, the non-UN scenarios often suggest lower and more varied future fertility levels.

Presented in Session 65: Fertility Trends and Prospects