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A fertility map

Where in the world is the population replacing itself?

Populations can replace themselves by having children (fertility) and through immigration. Here, we focus on fertility. A general rule is that women must have an average of 2.1 children to maintain the population, with the extra 0.1 owing to the fact that some children will not reach the age of procreation.

This GeoFRED map of the world shows how each country stands with respect to replacing itself. The color white indicates the country is below its replacement rate, light blue indicates pretty much the minimum replacement rate, and the darkening greens move up the fertility scale from there.

It’s not news that many Western industrialized nations have low fertility, which they compensate for with immigration. Poorer countries, as expected, have higher fertility. But there are a few cases that aren’t so well known. For example, some South American countries have low fertility, as does Thailand. Iran is a low-fertility country in between two high-fertility countries, Iraq and Afghanistan. These latter two countries tend to have net emigration, which is not surprising given the waves of conflict there, and thus their populations don’t increase as fast as their fertility would otherwise indicate. And then there’s Eastern Europe: very low fertility and net emigration, leading to substantial population loss.

How this map was created: The original post referenced an interactive map from our now discontinued GeoFRED site. The revised post provides a replacement map from FRED’s new mapping tool. To create FRED maps, go to the data series page in question and look for the green “VIEW MAP” button at the top right of the graph. See this post for instructions to edit a FRED map. Only series with a green map button can be mapped.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.



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