What is fertility rate? Definition and examples


The term Fertility Rate refers to the average number of babies born to females during their reproductive years. In other words, the total number of children that would be born to each human female if she lived to the end of her childbearing years. We get a country’s fertility rate by summing the single-year age-specific rates at a given time.

We can also use the terms Total Fertility Rate (TFR) and Absolute/Potential Natality.

TFR is the single most important factor in any country’s population growth. Another factor is, for example, in the advanced economies, immigration.

Life expectancy is also a factor that influences a country’s total population. In this context, life expectancy refers to how long we expect the people in a country or area to live.

Advancements in healthcare and quality of life have significant impacts on both fertility and life expectancy trends globally.

Fertility Rate
By the end of this century, the global fertility rate will have declined considerably. (Data Source: United Nations)

Ideal fertility rate

For a country to maintain its population, women, on average, should have 2.1 children. Those children should survive to at least the age of fifteen.

The figure of 2.1 children assumes that there is no emigration or immigration.

The United States, United Kingdom, and other advanced economies can maintain their populations with relatively low TFRs. This is because they have high levels of immigration, i.e., many people come from abroad to live there permanently.

According to Britannica.com:

“[FTR is the] average number of children born to women during their reproductive years.”

“For the population in a given area to remain stable, an overall total fertility rate of 2.1 is needed, assuming no immigration or emigration occurs.”

Birth vs. fertility rate

Do not confuse birth rates with fertility rates. Many online dictionaries explain birth rate with the same meaning as fertility rate – this is a mistake!

  • Birth Rate

Birth rate is the number of live births per 1,000 women in the total population. We usually calculate this figure on an annual basis.

In 2016, the average birth rate globally was 18.5 births per 1,000 total population.

If a country has a very low birth rate, it has to deal with an aging population, i.e., a growing proportion of elderly people. Japan has the world’s lowest birth rate.

  • Fertility rate

TFR is the average number of babies that would be born to a woman during her fertile years. In other words, the number of babies, on average, born to women aged between about 15 and 49.

The rate only includes women who survive at least through the end of their reproductive lives.

A map of the world with different colored countries:regions showing fertility rates.
The Governments of China, S. Korea, Singapore, Ukraine, Japan, Spain, & Italy are concerned about their countries’ very low fertility rates. (Image Source: Wikipedia)

Fertility on a personal level

On a personal level, a person’s fertility refers to their ability to reproduce.

  • Difficulties getting/staying pregnant

In the United States, approximately ten percent of all women aged between 15 and 44 have difficulty either getting or staying pregnant. Problems with ovulation are the main cause of infertility among women. Fibroids, endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease are other common causes. Fortunately, if you and your partner are unable to conceive, you can reach out to egg or sperm banks like Cryos International in order to make your dream of having a family come true.

  • Male sperm count

Varicocele, when the veins in a man’s testicle(s) are too large, can affect the shape or number of sperm, leading to male infertility. A low sperm count and sperm that are not moving properly are the main causes of male fertility.

  • Options for couples

Couples who have fertility problems have a number of options, including IVF, surrogacy, and adoption. If you are thinking about undergoing IVF treatment, you first need to ask yourself: “What is IVF?”  Before deciding to undergo any medical procedure, you should first gain a better understanding of what it is and what it involves.

Fertility clinics usually use the term IVF success rate to talk about how successful treatment is. Live birth rate is considerd as the single most important IVF success rate. Finally, women have a baby through IVF, that is the most important outcome.

Additionally, advancements in reproductive technology and genetics are continually shaping the field of fertility, offering new prospects for those facing challenges.

Compound phrases with ‘fertility rate’

A compound phrase is a term that consists of two or more words. ‘Fertility rate’, for example, is a compound phrase. There are many 3-word compound phrases containing the term ‘fertility rate.’ Let’s have a look at some of them:

  • National Fertility Rate

The average number of children born to women of reproductive age within a specific country.

For example: “The ‘national fertility rate’ is a critical indicator for a country’s future population trends.”

  • Adjusted Fertility Rate

A fertility rate modified for factors like age distribution or population structure.

For example: “Demographers use the ‘adjusted fertility rate’ to get a more accurate picture of fertility trends over time.”

  • Comparative Fertility Rate

A rate used to compare fertility between different groups or time periods.

For example: “The study highlighted a ‘comparative fertility rate’ between urban and rural areas.”

  • Projected Fertility Rate

An estimate of future fertility rates based on current trends.

For example: “The ‘projected fertility rate’ suggests a declining population in the next fifty years.”

  • Age-Specific Fertility Rate

The average number of births to women of a particular age group.

For example: “The ‘age-specific fertility rate’ for women aged 20-24 has decreased in the past decade.”

  • Annual Fertility Rate

The number of births in a year per woman of reproductive age.

For example: “The ‘annual fertility rate’ provides insight into the immediate reproductive patterns of a population.”

Video – the Fertility Rate

This video, from our YouTube partner channel – Marketing Business Network, explains what ‘Fertility Rate’ means using simple and easy-to-understand language and examples.