Desired fertility

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This article describes a measure that can be evaluated for a particular individual person, household, or family. It is not a statistical aggregate, though it may be statistically aggregated to provide average measures and distributions.
The measure may vary with time, i.e., its value may be different at different points in time.
The measure is subjective, as the measurement of its value is based on people's beliefs, opinions, and/or values.


The desired fertility or ideal fertility of a female at a given point in time is the total completed fertility she would like to have. Note that this differs conceptually (and may or may not differ in actual value) from expected fertility, because the latter refers to the total completed fertility she expects to have, given her realistic assessment of constraints.

Relation between desired fertility and parity

With most definitions of desired fertility, desired fertility must be at least equal to the parity of the female, i.e., the number of children the female has already had.

Variation with time

Whereas completed fertility is a constant for a particular woman (that is determined after she can no longer bear children), desired fertility may change with time as the woman's goals, beliefs, and fertility history.