Birth rate

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States by birth rate, 2017
Birth rate in Europe in 2006

Birth rate (or birth rate , gross birth rate ; English crude birth rate, fertility rate ) is a key figure in demography that indicates the number of live births per year in a state based on 1000 inhabitants .


The birth rate shows the contribution that live births make to a country's population development . The population development does not only depend on the birth rate, but also on its counterpart death rate , life expectancy and emigration and immigration . The fertility rate ( fertility rate ) as a further key figure indicates how many children a woman would have on average in the course of her life if the age-specific fertility rates determined at a uniform point in time were valid for the entire period of her fertile life phase. It is based on the birth rate and, in contrast to this, is a purely hypothetical figure. A synonym for the birth rate is natality , a term also used in medicine and philosophy.


In the population statistics , the birth rate indicates the number of live births per year ( ) and per 1000 inhabitants ( ):

Niger and Mali , the leading countries in world statistics, have 44 live births per year and per 1000 inhabitants, so that the birth rate is 44 ‰ or 4.4% of the population.

The birth and death rates are subject to short- and long-term changes. In the demographic transition model (especially since the 1970s) it is assumed that there is a uniform trend from high to low birth and death rates. This development causes the old-age quotient to rise; H. the proportion of older people in the population would continue to increase. High birth and death rates would lead to an increase in the youth quotient . Many countries experienced a particularly marked change in the birth rate after the introduction of the birth control pill (the so-called pill break ).

In Germany , the birth rate has been rising again since 2012 after a long decline. In 2015, the average number of children per woman was 1.5

Key figures

General fertility rate, general fertility rate

With general fertility rate or general fertility rate (GFR abbreviated for English English 'general fertility rate ) the number of live births per year and 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years (ie gross of childbearing age) understood. It can be high, although the raw birth rate - for example because of a high proportion of old people, men and / or children - has a low value.

For practical reasons, the age at birth is used here and below as the difference between the year of birth of the child and the year of birth of the mother, which on average (± 1 year) results in approximately the age of the mother at the time of birth and not the number of completed years of life.

Age-specific fertility rate, age-specific fertility rate

Age-specific fertility rates in Germany 2001–2010

This refers to the number of live births by women of a certain age in relation to 1000 women of the corresponding age.

The level of the age-specific fertility rates differs significantly with the age of the women. For the years of age up to 15 and over 45 years they are close to 0, in between there is usually a pronounced maximum, the position of which depends, for example, on the educational level of the women under consideration. In Germany , this maximum has shifted from around 25 to 31 years in the last 40 years.

Total fertility rate, total fertility rate

Summarized fertility rates in Germany by district average 2011–2013

The total fertility rate (abbreviated TFR for English total fertility rate ) is the sum of the age-specific fertility rate divided by 1000.

Cohort-specific fertility rate, cohort-specific fertility rate

Even with the cohort-specific fertility rate (abbreviated CFR for English cohort fertility rate ) is an age-specific by 1000 divided total fertility rates, but the number of different years are summed so that they relate to a single birth cohort of mothers. It is also known as the mean final number of children because it indicates the average number of children women have had in a given year and is a more realistic measure than the total fertility rate, but has the disadvantage that it can only be determined after the the year in question has largely left childbearing age.

economic aspects

Already in 1798 Thomas Robert Malthus predicted in his population law that the food produced by humans followed a linear growth, the amount of food thus increasing at the same time intervals by the same absolute amount. In contrast, the population develops with geometric growth ( compound interest formula ), so it increases in equal time intervals by constant percentage increases. Mathematically, the soil yield can only grow exponentially ( etc.) in arithmetic progression , but the population can grow in geometric progression ( etc.), with the result of hunger and poverty . He foresaw a Malthusian catastrophe , an obstacle to economic growth caused by the population explosion .

It is estimated that around the year 1650 the world population was around 500 million people, the doubling time was then 180 years, because in 1830 there were 1 billion people worldwide. In 1900 the world population was 1.6 billion people with a doubling time of 140 years, in 1970 the world population had grown over-exponentially to 3.6 billion, the doubling time was only 33 years. Mathematically, it doubles if the fertility rate remains constant at 1% annually, ceteris paribus, every 69.6 years, for 2% every 35 years, for 4% every 17.6 years. Niger and Mali thus double their population every 17.6 years. With a decrease to 2.1 births per woman, the world population only stabilized after doubling in 2150.

The rapid population growth caused the People's Republic of China to introduce the national one-child policy in 1980 , which contributed to a drastic decline in both the birth rate and the population . From three children per woman in 1980, the birth rate fell to around 1.7 in 2008. Other populous countries have taken no action and continue to suffer from overpopulation . High birth rates tend to lead to poverty , especially child poverty . Since food production and water supplies cannot keep pace with population growth, especially in developing and emerging countries , famine and water scarcity have continued to increase.


In general, it is still true that the birth rates in developing and emerging countries are significantly higher than in industrialized countries .

The following statistics provide an overview of the birth rates in 2018:

country 2018
birth rate in births per woman
Birth rate 2017/2018
births per 1000 inhabitants
Niger 7.15 44
Somalia 6.12 40
Democratic Republic of Congo 5.96 34
Mali 5.92 44
Chad 5.80 36
Angola 5.55 44
Burundi 5.45 41
Tunisia 2.15 18th
East Timor 5.34 33
Afghanistan 4.56 38
Pakistan 3.55 22nd
Israel 3.04 18th
Saudi Arabia 2.34 18th
India 2.24 19th
China 1.69 12
Taiwan 1.15 8th
Hong Kong 1.33 9
South Korea 1.11 8th
Turkey 2.08 16
Portugal 1.24 9
Ireland 1.84 14th
France 1.85 12
Belgium 1.72 11
Norway 1.68 12
Netherlands 1.66 11
Germany 1.59 8.5
Switzerland 1.54 11
Austria 1.53 10
United States 1.78 13
Mexico 2.16 18th
Honduras 2.49 22nd
Guatemala 2.83 24
Bolivia 2.75 22nd
Paraguay 2.45 17th
Ecuador 2.44 18th
Brazil 1.74 14th
world 2.47 19.6

The highest fertility rates are still in Africa , while Taiwan and South Korea have the lowest . China ranks 156th (out of 200 countries) with a low birth rate, India 102nd place. Germany is on the European average (EU-28).

The highest birth rates in the EU in 2017 were found in Ireland (12.9 live births / 1000 inhabitants), Sweden (11.5), United Kingdom and France (11.4 each), the Czech Republic (10.8%), Slovakia / Latvia / Cyprus ( 10.7 each), Denmark / Poland (10.6 each); Austria (10.0) and Germany (9.5) are in the EU average . The bottom of the list were Croatia (8.9), Spain / Portugal (both 8.4), Greece (8.2) and Italy (7.6).

The United Nations assumes that the birth rates will rise in countries with a low birth level and decrease in countries with a high birth level, so that the countries under review would approach a total birth rate of 1.85 (median) by 2050.

See also


  • Literature on the birth rate in the catalog of the German National Library
  • Birth development after the fall of the Wall: Minutes of a conference of the Johann-Peter-Süßmilch Society for Demography , published by the Social Science Research Center Berlin-Brandenburg SFZ, by Ingrid Kurz-Scherf and G. Winkler (= Umbruch , Volume 14). am Turm, Berlin 1998, DNB 958073929 .
  • Johannes Kopp: Birth development and fertility behavior, theoretical modeling and empirical explanatory approaches , UVK, Konstanz 2002, ISBN 3-89669-969-5 (Habilitation thesis University of Mannheim 1999, 238 pages, scientific treatise, which also contains an explanation of demographic variables).
  • Norbert Schuett: Endogenous growth and population development , Bielefeld 2005, DNB 978135245 Dissertation Uni Bielefeld July 2005, 175 pages, supervisors: Alfred Greiner and Willi Semmler, online (PDF, free 175 pages, 588 kB)
  • Mirjam Mohr: The fairy tale of the dying Germans . In: Der Spiegel from August 23, 2006
  • Michael Blume, Carsten Ramsel, Sven Graupner: Religiousness as a demographic factor - an underestimated connection? (PDF; 514 kB) - In: Marburg Journal of Religion (on the connection between the number of children and education, income, religiosity in Germany).

Web links

Wiktionary: Birth rate  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Federal Statistical Office : Press release No. 373 of October 17, 2016
  2. Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population , 1798/1924, p. 18
  3. Günter Fellenberg, Environmental pollution: An introduction , 1999, p. 209
  4. Dennis Meadows / Donella Meadows / Erich Zahn / Peter Milling, The Limits of Growth , 1972, p. 26
  5. ^ Meyers Konversations-Lexikon: an encyclopedia of general knowledge , Volume 3, 1874, p. 107
  6. Bundeszentrale für Heimatdienst (Ed.): Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte , 1994, p. 36
  7. Joachim Rau, Shanghai with Suzhou & Hangzhou , 2010, p. 16
  8. ^ World Population Review , Fertility Rate By Country , 2019
  9. CIA World Fact Book , January 2018
  10. Statista, European Union: Birth rates in the member states in 2017 , August 2018 Retrieved on May 12, 2019
  11. United Nations (Ed.): World Population Prospects , 2005, p. 21 f.