Comparative Analysis of Completed Parity Distributions: A Global WFS-Perspective

Lutz W (1988). Comparative Analysis of Completed Parity Distributions: A Global WFS-Perspective. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-88-090


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The IIASA Population Program has turned out a number of studies of distributions, in contrast to the averages to which standard demographic analysis is largely confined. James Vaupel and Anatoli Yashin have shown that the degree to which individuals of a given age differ (for instance in their chances of dying) makes a substantial difference in the conclusions to be drawn from mortality tables.

The present work carries this concern with heterogeneity into a further domain: the variation among women in the number of children born to them. If all women have three children the population will increase at exactly the same rate as if half of the women have six children and the others have none (mortality and migration being the same). But many other things will be different, all the way from participation in the labor force to the pattern of housing demand.

Of the many ways in which distributions can be described Wolfgang Lutz leans heavily on a set of statistics that come close to describing behavior: the fraction of married women who have at least one child; the fraction of those with one child who go on to have a second; and so on. These parity (from a Latin root meaning childbearing) progression ratios would be 1,1,1,0,0,0,0,... for the population in which all women have three children; 0.5,1,1,1,1,1,0,0,0,... for the population in which half have six children and the other half have none. In the more typical case the parities start close to unity, and after one or two children go down because of disinclination or the biological incapacity to bear. An example is Czechoslovakia, with 0.96,0.83,0.43,0.39,0.36, etc.

The source of information here is the World Fertility Survey, with its completed family size for ever-married women in 55 countries.

One might have thought that under natural fertility, when no one was controlling, most women would have about the same number of children, and on the other hand when women were free to choose the number of their children some would want few, some would want many, so the variation would be great. This is exactly what does not happen with the passage from natural to controlled childbearing; in the former case variation is considerable and in the latter people use birth control to have close to two children. The tables of this Working Paper narrow variation for 14 developed countries, and much greater variation for most of the 41 less developed countries.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 01:58
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2016 23:31

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