Quotation Thomas, Sobotka, Lutz, Wolfgang. 2011. Misleading policy messages derived from the period TFR: Should we stop using it?. Comparative Population Studies - Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft 35 (3): 637-664.




Discussions about fertility in developed countries refer almost exclusively to the period Total Fertility Rate (TFR). We argue that the use of this indicator frequently leads to incorrect interpretation of period fertility levels and trends, resulting in distorted policy conclusions and, potentially, in misguided policies. We illustrate this with four policy-relevant examples, drawn from contemporary Europe. These illustrations show that the TFR (a) inflates the presumed gap between fertility intentions and realised fertility, (b) erroneously suggests a significant fertility increase in many countries of Europe after the year 2000, (c) often exaggerates the level of immigrants fertility and (d) frequently suggests that family-related policies which led to shorter birth spacing in fact brought an upward swing in fertility level. There seems to be no policy-relevant question for which the period TFR would be the indicator of choice to be preferred over other existing measures. KEYWORDS: Fertility measurement; Total fertility; Policies; Fertility intentions; Fertility timing; Tempo effect


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Comparative Population Studies - Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft
Language English
Title Misleading policy messages derived from the period TFR: Should we stop using it?
Volume 35
Number 3
Year 2011
Page from 637
Page to 664
Reviewed? Y
URL http://www.comparativepopulationstudies.de/index.php/CPoS/article/view/54


Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital
Lutz, Wolfgang (Former researcher)
Thomas, Sobotka
Institute for Statistics and Mathematics IN (Details)
Demography Group AB (Former organization)
Research Institute for Human Capital and Development FI (Former organization)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
5404 Demography (Details)
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