The fertility impact of changes in the timing of childbearing in the developing world
Population Studies 53(3): 277-289
Publication date: 1999
This study examines the role of tempo effects in the fertility declines of less developed countries. These effects temporarily inflate the total fertility of a population during periods when the age at childbearing declines and deflate it when childbearing is postponed. An analysis of data from the World Fertility Surveys and the Demographic and Health Surveys demonstrates that fertility trends observed in many less developed countries are likely to be distorted by changes in the timing of childbearing. In most countries women are delaying childbearing, which implies that observed fertility is lower than it would have been without tempo changes. This pattern is most clearly documented in Taiwan, where accurate birth statistics form a vital registration system that make it possible to estimate the tempo components of fertility annually from 1978 to 1993. The small but unexpected rise in the total fertility of Colombia in the early 1990s is attributed to a decline in the negative tempo distortion that prevailed in the 1980s. Similar interruptions of ongoing fertility declines may occur in the future in other countries when existing negative tempo effects are removed.