Misleading policy messages derived from the period TFR: Should we stop using it?

Sobotka, T. & Lutz, W. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7975-8145 (2011). Misleading policy messages derived from the period TFR: Should we stop using it? Zeitschrift fuer Bevoelkerungswissenschaft - Comparative Population Studies (CPoS) 35 (3) 637-664. 10.4232/10.CPoS-2010-15en.

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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.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fertility measurement; Total fertility; Policies; Fertility intentions; Fertility timing; Tempo effect
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Bibliographic Reference: Comparative Population Studies - Zeitschrift fuer Bevoelkerungswissenschaft; 35(3):637-664 (15 September 2011)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:45
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2023 05:00
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/9556

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