Global Demographic Convergence? A Reconsideration of Inequality in National Fertility Estimates

Shawn F. Dorius, Pennsylvania State University

This research challenges the notion that the last half of the twentieth century was a period of global demographic convergence. To be sure, fertility rates fell substantially during the period, but with considerable unevenness. The decline in total fertility across population-weighted countries was sufficiently disproportionate that between-nation fertility inequality, estimated using standard measures of inequality, did not begin to decline until at least 1995. Regression analysis also suggests that only very recently did lagging nations begin to catch up with early adopters of low fertility. Contrary to findings from health inequality research, counterfactual models indicate that sub-Saharan Africa has had a greater impact on fertility inequality than China. The trend in fertility inequality, where convergence appears to be a relatively new phenomenon, stands in stark contrast to inequality in other domains, such as income, education, and life expectancy.

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Presented in Poster Session 3