Ultra-Low Fertility in Korea: The Role of Tempo Effect

Yoo, S.H. & Sobotka, T. (2017). Ultra-Low Fertility in Korea: The Role of Tempo Effect. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-17-008

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Project: EURREP - Fertility, reproduction and population change in 21st Century Europe (EURREP, FP7 2848238)


Background: The total fertility rate (TFR) in South Korea has fallen below 1.3 since 2001. However, little is known about the role of the rapid shift towards late childbearing in driving Korean fertility decline to this “ultra-low” level.
Objective: We provide an in-depth analysis of period fertility trends by birth order in South Korea from 1981 to 2014 when the period TFR fell from 2.66 to extreme low levels.
Methods: We combine census and birth registration data to estimate period and cohort fertility indicators by birth order. We compare changes in conventional TFR with tempo- and parity-adjusted total fertility rate (TFRp*) and their birth order-specific components.
Results: Tempo effect linked to the shift towards delayed childbearing has had a strong and persistent negative influence on period TFRs in Korea since the early 1980s. Without the shift to later childbearing, period fertility rates in Korea would consistently stay higher and would decline more gradually, falling below a threshold of very low fertility, 1.5, only in 2014. The postponement of childbearing and the resulting tempo effect were strongest in the early 2000s, when Korean TFR reached the lowest levels. More recently, Korean fertility has been characterized by diminishing tempo effect and falling first and second birth rates. This trend marks a break with the previous pattern of almost universal fertility and a strong two-child family model.
Contribution: Our study demonstrates the importance of tempo effect in explaining the shift to “ultra-low” fertility in Korea and in East Asia.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 02 May 2017 09:09
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:28
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/14553

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