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Asia's Recent Fertility Decline and Prospects for Future Demographic Change

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Freedman, Ronald. 1995. "Asia's Recent Fertility Decline and Prospects for Future Demographic Change." Asia-Pacific Population Research Reports No. 1

This report surveys fertility trends in Asia since the mid-1960s, focusing on 24 countries that together account for 3.1 billion, or 56 percent, of the world's population. Asian fertility has declined overall by 39 percent, or 62 percent of the decline necessary for reaching the population-replacement level of 2.1 children per woman, and contraceptive use has risen sharply throughout much of the region. By 1990 nine out of 10 Asians were living in countries where fertility had fallen by at least 25 percent. Although fertility rates and contraceptive use vary widely within the region, three out of four Asians today live in six countries where, despite low levels of economic development, fertility rates range from 4.5 to 2.1 children per woman and nearly two-thirds of married couples, on average, practice contraception. The report considers three factors usually believed to account for these astonishingly rapid changes in reproductive behavior: mortality decline, broad social and economic development, and effective national family planning programs. An assessment follows of the current demographic situation, the role of those three factors and of alternative plausible pathways for reducing fertility, and likely future fertility levels in individual countries and subregions.

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