Recent Demographic Trends in the Developed Countries

Fertility in the Developed English-Speaking Countries outside Europe : Canada, United States, Australia and New Zealand

Jean-Paul Sardon  By the same author


AbstractThe fertility of the English-speaking populations of North America and Oceania has, it would seem, always been higher than that of Europe, despite the absence of any directly targeted family policy. However, in recent decades the gap has tended to close and these countries are now at the level of the most fertile European ones. In these countries, as in Europe, the period after the Second World War saw a baby boom followed by a decline in fertility. Their baby boom was more marked and earlier than the European one. It peaked in 1957 in the United States, 1959 in Canada, and 1961 in Australia and New Zealand. The postponement of births to later ages took a particular path in the United States. After the baby boom, the fertility of young American women quickly reverted to its earlier level and has remained fairly stable since. Conversely, in other countries, fertility rates have pursued their decline due to the ongoing trend towards delayed childbearing. Consequently, in most countries, the rise in fertility after the age of 30 as older women start to found a family has at most compensated for the decline before that age. In the United States, this rise, due mainly to higher cohort fertility, has pushed up the total fertility rate. Within this group of countries, Canada is distinguished by relatively low fertility. The total fertility rate has stabilized in recent years at 1.5 children per woman, a figure close to that of the European Union as a whole.