The total fertility rate is an estimate of the number of children an average woman would have if current age-specific fertility rates remained constant during her reproductive years. The values are estimated using demographic models based on several kinds of demographic parameters: a country's population size, age and sex distribution, fertility and mortality rates by age and sex groups, growth rates of urban and rural populations, and the levels of internal and international migration. Information collected through recent population censuses and surveys is used to calculate or estimate these parameters, but accuracy varies. The U.N. Population Division compiles and evaluates census and survey results from all countries. These data are adjusted for overenumeration and underenumeration of certain age and sex groups (e.g., infants, female children, and young males), misreporting of age and sex distributions, and changes in definitions, when necessary. These adjustments incorporate data from civil registrations, population surveys, earlier censuses, and, when necessary, population models based on information from socioeconomically similar countries. (Because the figures have been adjusted, they are not strictly comparable to the official statistics compiled by the U.N. Statistical Office and published in the Demographic Yearbook.) After the figures for population size and age/sex composition have been adjusted, these data are scaled to 1990. Similar estimates are made for each 5-year period between 1950 and 1990. Historical data are used when deemed accurate, also with adjustments and scaling. However, accurate historical data do not exist for many developing countries. In such cases, the U.N. Population Division uses available information and demographic models to estimate the main demographic parameters. Projections are based on estimates of the 1990 base-year population. Age- and sex-specific mortality rates are applied to the base-year population to determine the number of survivors at the end of each 5-year period. Births are projected by applying age-specific fertility rates to the projected female population. Births are distributed by an assumed sex ratio, and the appropriate age- and sex-specific survival rates are applied. Future migration rates are also estimated on an age- and sex-specific basis. Combining future fertility, mortality, and migration rates yields the projected population size, average annual population change, and average annual increment to the population. Assumptions about future mortality, fertility, and migration rates are made on a country-by-country basis and, when possible, are based on historical trends. Four scenarios of population growth are created by using different assumptions about fertility (high fertility, medium fertility, low fertility, and constant fertility). For example, the medium-case scenario assumes medium levels of fertility---an assumption that may vary among countries. Refer to the original source for further details. Although projections may be of questionable quality, U.N. demographic models are based on surveys and censuses with well-understood qualities, which makes these data fairly reliable.
Data available on the CD-ROM World Population Prospect: The 2000 Revision prepared by the Population division, Dpartement of Economic and Social affairs.
This entry gives a figure for the average number of children that would be born per woman if all women lived to the end of their childbearing years and bore children according to a given fertility rate at each age. The total fertility rate is a more direct measure of the level of fertility than the crude birth rate, since it refers to births per woman. This indicator shows the potential for population growth in the country. High rates will also place some limits on the labor force participation rates for women. Large numbers of children born to women indicate large family sizes that might limit the ability of the families to feed and educate their children.
Number of Children Per Woman
GEO Data Category:
Health, fertility rate, regional level
No reference for download
1950-1955, 1955-1960, ..., 2045-2050
Jaap Van Woerden
11, chemin des Anemones
+41 22 917 82 94
+41 22 917 80 29
World Pop. Prosp.
UN Pop. Div.
11, Chemin des Anemones
+41 22 917 82 94
+41 22 917 80 29
GIS Data Info
Statistics Data Info
The data is only aggregated if at least 75 % of the observations are available (i.e. % of population or % of area or % of countries) on an annual basis.
The value "-9999" corresponds to "No Data"
Calculated pre 1991-1992 relative country share
Former Yugoslavia SFR:
Data for Australia include Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Norfolk Island.
Data for China do not include Hong Kong.
Data for Mauritius include Agalega, Rodrigues and Saint Brandon.
Countries listed individually are only those with 140,000 inhabitants or more in 2000.
Assumptions about the future paths of fertility:
Fertility assumptions are described in terms of the following groups of countries:
High-fertility countries: Countries that until 2000 have had no fertility reduction or only an
Medium-fertility countries: Countries where fertility has been declining but whose level is still
above replacement level (2.1 children per woman);
Low-fertility countries: Those countries with fertility at or below replacement level (2.1 children
per woman) plus a few with levels very close to replacement levels that are expected to fall
below replacement level in the near future.
Fertility in high-fertility countries is generally assumed to decline at an average pace of
nearly one child per decade starting in 2005 or later. Consequently, some of these countries
do not reach replacement level by 2050.
Fertility in medium-fertility countries is assumed to reach replacement level before 2050.
Fertility in low-fertility countries is generally assumed to remain below replacement level
during most of the projection period, reaching by 2045-2050 the fertility of the cohort of
women born in the early 1960s or, if that information is lacking, reaching 1.7 children per
woman if current fertility is below 1.5 children per woman or 1.9 children per woman if current
fertility is equal to or higher than 1.5 children per woman.
Copyright c 2002 (Aggregations) United Nations Environment Programme/DEWA/GRID-Geneva.
Data aggregation made by Andrea DeBono and Ola Nordbeck (UNEP/DEWA/GRID-Geneva).