Fertility in Japan

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This page gives information of type fertility about the country Japan.
See all pages giving information on fertility for particular countries|See all pages giving information about Japan

Data sources

  • Some data on this page comes from the Human Fertility Database (website www.humanfertility.org) (data downloaded December 2, 2013, last updated by HFD August 8, 2012). The data collected by the Human Fertility Database is based on government data collection by the government of Japan. You can download the data yourself here. Details about the modalities of data collection are available here. Where available, we use HFD data because of its higher reliability.
  • Where better data is not available, we have relied on Gapminder's variables related to fertility: total fertility rate (variable number gd008, full documentation here, variable name Children per woman (total fertility)), crude birth rate (from the UN here), and surviving kids per woman.

Key quantitative metrics

Unless otherwise specified, data is from the Human Fertility Database, last updated August 2012.

The "Year" column below gives the period year for period measures, and the birth cohort year for cohort measures. With the exception of the tempo-adjusted total fertility rate, all latest period measures are for 2009. Latest cohort measures are 1959 or 1969, the former for the completed measures and the latter for the under-40 measures.

Metric Direct fertility measure, comparable with replacement fertility value of 2.1? Period measure or cohort measure? Most recent measurement Year Data year range, with link to data Maximum in range Minimum in range
crude birth rate (CBR) No Period 8.5 2009 1947-2009 34.65
(1947)
8.43
(2005)
total fertility rate (TFR) Yes Period 1.361 2009 1947-2009 4.566
(1947)
1.254
(2005)
TFR40 Yes(ish) Period 1.324 2009 1947-2009 4.252
(1947)
1.228
(2005)
CBR proportions by birth order No Period birth orders 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (and more) (respectively): 0.479, 0.365, 0.126, 0.024, 0.007 2009 1968-2009
TFR proportions by birth order No Period birth orders 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (and more) (respectively): 0.495, 0.357, 0.118, 0.022, 0.007 2009 1968-2009
Completed cohort fertility Yes Cohort 1.87 1959 1932-1959 2.071
(1941
cohort)
1.851
(1945
cohort)
CCF40 Yes(ish) Cohort 1.444 1969 1932-1969 2.062
(1941
cohort)
1.444
(1969
cohort)
Mean age at birth No Period 30.44 2009 1947-2009 30.47
(1947)
27.47
(1975)
Cohort mean age at birth No Cohort 28.64 1959 1953-1959 28.64
(1959
cohort)
27.92
(1953
cohort)
Cohort mean age at birth for birth cohorts till the age of 40 (CMAB40) No Cohort 29.55 1969 1953-1969 29.55
(1969)
27.82
(1953)
Tempo-adjusted total fertility rate (period measure) Yes Period 1.512 2008 1969-2008 2.045
(1969)
1.369
(2005)

Qualitative history of fertility-relevant events and trends

Key events

See Wikipedia:Abortion in Japan for the abortion timeline, and this paper for the pro-natalist policy timeline.

Year Type of event Direction (pronatalist versus antinatalist) based on intentions and naive reasoning about effects Event Postulated effects seen in fertility statistics Total fertility rate values in that year and nearby years (relevant year in bold)
1869 fertility policy pronatalist abortion was banned nationwide, but punishment was rare except in cases of adultery or death to the mother
1880 fertility policy pronatalist ban on abortion was included in the penal code
1907 fertility policy pronatalist women could be incarcerated for up to a year for having an abortion; practitioners could be jailed for up to seven.
1923 fertility policy antinatalist doctors were granted legal permission to perform emergency abortions to save the mother's life; abortions performed under different, less life-threatening circumstances were still prosecuted.
1940 fertility policy pronatalist National Eugenic Law outlined a set of procedures doctors needed to follow in order to get an abortion. Some commentators claim this was causally responsible for a huge decline in the number of abortions 1941-1944.
1948 fertility policy antinatalist passage of Eugenic Protection Law legalizing abortion and facilitating the provision of family planning services This may have contributed to the rapid decline in birth rates and fertility in the 1949-1955 period. 4.566, 4.444, 4.357, 3.672
1966 superstition antinatalist (but temporary) inauspicious year for births. sudden dip in fertility rates. 2.045, 2.145, 1.579, 2.224, 2.127
1972 family policy pronatalist The Japanese government, foreseeing that fertility would soon drop to below the replacement fertility level, introduced a per-child subsidy.
1973 measurement issue -- change in data collection modalities Jumps or discontinuities at this year are likely attributable to the change in data collection modality. 2.153, 2.138, 2.135, 2.04, 1.9
1991 family policy pronatalist Childcare Leave Act passed by Japanese government aimed at helping working mothers 1.576, 1.543, 1.537, 1.506, 1.464
1994 family policy pronatalist government passed a four-year Angel Plan 1995-99 (officially known as the "Basic Direction for Future Childbearing Support Measures") with the primary goal being to establish more day-care centers to make parenting easier (and thereby, more attractive) 1.506, 1.464, 1.507, 1.426, 1.43
1996 fertility policy pronatalist replacement of the Eugenic Protection Law by the Maternal Health Protection Law, making abortion illegal except in case the fetus had significant defects or in case of danger to the mother's health No discernible effect, but probably because the law itself didn't change reality on the ground. 1.507, 1.426, 1.43, 1.392, 1.388
1999 family policy pronatalist government passed a New Angel Plan building on the earlier Angel Plan, to build more day-care centers and after-school support. 1.392, 1.388, 1.347, 1.318, 1.29
1999 fertility policy antinatalist birth control pills were legalized, see here No discernible effect 1.392, 1.388, 1.347, 1.318, 1.29
2001 family policy pronatalist Employment Insurance Law was amended, specifying that 40% salary was to be paid to regular full-time employees on childcare leave 1.347, 1.359, 1.336, 1.318, 1.29
2002 family policy pronatalist "Plus One" plan announced by the government, encouraging fathers to take five-day paternity leave following childbirth 1.359, 1.336, 1.318, 1.29, 1.288
2003 diffuse, mix of family policy and fertility policy pronatalist Japanese government passed "Next Generation" law and "Law for Measures to Support the Development of the Next Generation." These required any business with more than 300 workers to create a "plan" for raising the fertility level of its workers 1.336, 1.318, 1.29, 1.288, 1.254
2004 fertility policy pronatalist government subsidies for infertility treatments began 1.318, 1.29, 1.288, 1.254, 1.313
2006 fertility policy antinatalist abortion was officially made legal conditional to the mother's consent No discernible effect, but probably because the law itself didn't change reality on the ground. 1.288, 1.254, 1.313, 1.331, 1.36

Trends in period fertility

The fertility history of Japan can be subdivided into the following rough periods. Fertility history prior to 1947 relies on Gapminder, which uses the less reliable UN data, whereas fertility history 1947 onward uses the higher reliability HFD data. However, for the part 1947 onward, the Gapminder and HFD data paint a similar picture, and the only qualitative difference is that the Gapminder data fail to capture the dip in 1966.

Time period Trend in fertility Some numbers Details
1873-1901 huge increase TFR increased from 3.41 to 5.01
1901-1906 rapid decrease TFR decreased from 5.01 to 4.37
1907-1919 upward jump, followed by modest decrease TFR jumped up to 5.02 (from 4.37 the previous year), then decreased gradually to 4.77 The introduction of explicit penalties for women who have abortions in 1907 might explain the jump.
1920-1939 rapid decrease TFR decreased from 5.35 to 3.8 The sudden change between 1919 and 1920 may be attributable to the change in data source.
1939-1947 fluctuation TFR increased from 3.8 to 4.5, but with fluctuations The war years of 1944 and 1945 were particularly bad for TFR.
1947-1957 huge decrease CBR decreased from 34.65 to 17.38
TFR decreased from 4.566 to 2.058
Possibly exacerbated by the legalization of abortion in 1948. Note that the starting point of 1947 is the earliest year for which reliable data can be found, and Japan was also involved in World War II till 1945. Therefore, the relevance of legal abortion in the decline of fertility is hard to test.
1957-1973 modest decrease followed by modest increase CBR increased from 17.38 to 19.35
TFR increased from 2.058 to 2.135, dipping to about 1.9 in between
1959 was the first year with below-replacement fertility, and 1973 was the last year with above-replacement fertility
The year 1966, an inauspicious year for births, was in the middle of this period. Adjusting for the huge decline in birth sin these year and the subsequently slightly-above-normal value next year, we see a steady and modest increase in fertility over the period. Tightening of abortion laws is probably part of the explanation.
1973-present gradual decrease CBR decreased from 19.35 to 8.5
TFR decreased from 2.135 to 1.361
The decline was not steady, with small upticks in a few years, including what may be a more long-term rebound 2005-2009 (further data would be necessary to verify that). But the overall direction of decline is pretty strong. For a discussion of reasons, see explanations for fertility trends in Japan since 1973.


Trends in completed fertility

Range of birth cohorts Trend in fertility Some numbers Details
1932-1944 stayed roughly steady, declining and then bouncing back CCF decreased from 2.06 to 2.035
CCF40 decreased from 2.047 to 2.027
The fertility seems to have gone up a bit for the cohorts born during World War II, but the overall variation is too little. Mean CCF for the period is 2.036 and standard deviation is 0.023.
1945-1959 stayed roughly steady, but lower than the 1932-1944 level CCF increased from 1.851 to 1.87
CCF40 increased from 1.842 to 1.85
Mean CCF was 1.95 and standard deviation 0.049.
Mean CCF40 was 1.94 and standard deviation 0.049.
1959-1969 rapid decline CCF data unavailable
CCF40 decreased from 1.85 to 1.444
Slope for rate of decline using linear regression estimate is -0.04.


Period fertility

Further information: period fertility in Japan


Year CBR (births per 1000 people per year) CBR minus previous year's CBR TFR (sum of all age-specific fertility rates), ballpark for replacement fertility is 2.1 TFR minus previous year's TFR TFR40 (sum of age-specific fertility rates up to the age of 40), almost equal to TFR because births above the age of 40 are rare TFR40 minus previous year's TFR40
1947 34.65 4.566 4.252
1948 (passage of Eugenic Protection Law permitting abortion and facilitating provision of fmaily planning services) 33.95 -0.7 4.444 -0.122 4.132 -0.12
1949 33.42 -0.53 4.357 -0.087 4.101 -0.031
1950 28.42 -5 3.672 -0.685 3.486 -0.615
1951 25.55 -2.87 3.281 -0.391 3.13 -0.356
1952 23.6 -1.95 2.995 -0.286 2.874 -0.256
1953 21.67 -1.93 2.713 -0.282 2.617 -0.257
1954 20.27 -1.4 2.502 -0.211 2.423 -0.194
1955 19.58 -0.69 2.383 -0.119 2.316 -0.107
1956 18.63 -0.95 2.236 -0.147 2.18 -0.136
1957 17.38 -1.25 2.058 -0.178 2.013 -0.167
1958 18.18 0.8 2.129 0.071 2.089 0.076
1959 (first year with TFR below replacement fertility) 17.71 -0.47 2.061 -0.068 2.027 -0.062
1960 17.33 -0.38 2.008 -0.053 1.98 -0.047
1961 16.99 -0.34 1.963 -0.045 1.94 -0.04
1962 17.14 0.15 1.974 0.011 1.954 0.014
1963 17.4 0.26 2.001 0.027 1.983 0.029
1964 17.81 0.41 2.045 0.044 2.028 0.045
1965 18.72 0.91 2.145 0.1 2.129 0.101
1966 (inauspicious year for births) 13.85 -4.87 1.579 -0.566 1.565 -0.564
1967 19.49 5.64 2.224 0.645 2.21 0.645
1968 18.63 -0.86 2.127 -0.097 2.112 -0.098
1969 18.58 -0.05 2.119 -0.008 2.105 -0.007
1970 18.8 0.22 2.129 0.01 2.115 0.01
1971 19.21 0.41 2.153 0.024 2.139 0.024
1972 19.3 0.09 2.138 -0.015 2.125 -0.014
1973 (last year with TFR above the replacement fertility level; also, first year with new data collection modality) 19.35 0.05 2.135 -0.003 2.121 -0.004
1974 18.52 -0.83 2.04 -0.095 2.028 -0.093
1975 17.14 -1.38 1.9 -0.14 1.889 -0.139
1976 16.34 -0.8 1.84 -0.06 1.83 -0.059
1977 15.5 -0.84 1.786 -0.054 1.776 -0.054
1978 14.95 -0.55 1.774 -0.012 1.765 -0.011
1979 14.25 -0.7 1.751 -0.023 1.742 -0.023
1980 13.57 -0.68 1.731 -0.02 1.722 -0.02
1981 13.07 -0.5 1.726 -0.005 1.718 -0.004
1982 12.86 -0.21 1.755 0.029 1.746 0.028
1983 12.72 -0.14 1.788 0.033 1.779 0.033
1984 12.48 -0.24 1.8 0.012 1.79 0.011
1985 11.92 -0.56 1.757 -0.043 1.747 -0.043
1986 11.45 -0.47 1.719 -0.038 1.709 -0.038
1987 11.1 -0.35 1.689 -0.03 1.68 -0.029
1988 10.79 -0.31 1.657 -0.032 1.647 -0.033
1989 10.2 -0.59 1.576 -0.081 1.565 -0.082
1990 9.96 -0.24 1.543 -0.033 1.531 -0.034
1991 9.95 -0.01 1.537 -0.006 1.525 -0.006
1992 9.8 -0.15 1.506 -0.031 1.493 -0.032
1993 9.61 -0.19 1.464 -0.042 1.451 -0.042
1994 9.98 0.37 1.507 0.043 1.493 0.042
1995 9.55 -0.43 1.426 -0.081 1.411 -0.082
1996 9.68 0.13 1.43 0.004 1.414 0.003
1997 9.54 -0.14 1.392 -0.038 1.376 -0.038
1998 9.61 0.07 1.388 -0.004 1.371 -0.005
1999 9.39 -0.22 1.347 -0.041 1.329 -0.042
2000 9.49 0.1 1.359 0.012 1.339 0.01
2001 9.31 -0.18 1.336 -0.023 1.316 -0.023
2002 9.16 -0.15 1.318 -0.018 1.297 -0.019
2003 8.91 -0.25 1.29 -0.028 1.266 -0.031
2004 8.81 -0.1 1.288 -0.002 1.263 -0.003
2005 8.43 -0.38 1.254 -0.034 1.228 -0.035
2006 8.67 0.24 1.313 0.059 1.285 0.057
2007 8.64 -0.03 1.331 0.018 1.299 0.014
2008 8.66 0.02 1.36 0.029 1.326 0.027
2009 8.5 -0.16 1.361 0.001 1.324 -0.002
Maximum 34.65
(1947)
5.64
(1967)
4.566
(1947)
0.645
(1967)
4.252
(1947)
0.645
(1967)
Minimum 8.43
(2005)
-5
(1950)
1.254
(2005)
-0.685
(1950)
1.228
(2005)
-0.615
(1950)
Average (arithmetic mean) 15.366984127 -0.4217741935 1.971047619 -0.0516935484 1.9304126984 -0.0472258065
Geometric mean 14.2564922903 1.8716644672 1.8411780514
Median 14.25 -0.245 1.786 -0.029 1.776 -0.03
Standard deviation 6.3600331291 1.2910175478 0.7350500406 0.1619209065 0.6754908761 0.1543309643
Slope for best linear fit (using linear regression) -0.3094743664 0.0196975649 -0.0323055876 0.0031489764 -0.0303344854 0.0027210597
Multiplier for best log-linear fit (using linear regression on the logarithm) 0.9803430789 0.985175264 0.985546664
R^2 for linear regression 0.7955544081 0.075772529 0.6490239958 0.1231073376 0.6776002642 0.1011861286


Completed fertility

Further information: completed fertility in Japan


Cohort CCF CCF minus previous year's CCF CCF40 CCF40 minus previous year's CCF40
1932 2.06 2.047
1933 2.035 -0.025 2.024 -0.023
1934 2.008 -0.027 1.998 -0.026
1935 2.045 0.037 2.035 0.037
1936 2.035 -0.01 2.026 -0.009
1937 2.051 0.016 2.042 0.016
1938 2.009 -0.042 2.001 -0.041
1939 1.985 -0.024 1.976 -0.025
1940 2.052 0.067 2.043 0.067
1941 2.071 0.019 2.062 0.019
1942 2.031 -0.04 2.022 -0.04
1943 2.053 0.022 2.044 0.022
1944 2.036 -0.017 2.027 -0.017
1945 1.851 -0.185 1.842 -0.185
1946 1.905 0.054 1.896 0.054
1947 2.021 0.116 2.01 0.114
1948 1.987 -0.034 1.976 -0.034
1949 1.992 0.005 1.98 0.004
1950 1.969 -0.023 1.956 -0.024
1951 1.962 -0.007 1.949 -0.007
1952 1.982 0.02 1.968 0.019
1953 1.987 0.005 1.973 0.005
1954 1.983 -0.004 1.968 -0.005
1955 1.977 -0.006 1.961 -0.007
1956 1.946 -0.031 1.929 -0.032
1957 1.918 -0.028 1.9 -0.029
1958 1.909 -0.009 1.89 -0.01
1959 1.87 -0.039 1.85 -0.04
1960 unavailable 1.805 -0.045
1961 unavailable 1.762 -0.043
1962 unavailable 1.719 -0.043
1963 unavailable 1.672 -0.047
1964 unavailable 1.66 -0.012
1965 unavailable 1.595 -0.065
1966 unavailable 1.493 -0.102
1967 unavailable 1.506 0.013
1968 unavailable 1.497 -0.009
1969 unavailable 1.444 -0.053
Mean (1932-1959) 1.9903571429 -0.007037037 1.9783928571 -0.0072962963
Median (1932-1959) 1.9895 -0.009 1.978 -0.009
Standard deviation (1932-1959) 0.0582747098 0.0509467909 0.0602871765 0.0507488649
Slope for best linear fit (using linear regression) (1932-1959) -0.004805145 -0.0004334554 -0.0051409414 -0.000510989
R^2 -- goodness of linear fit (square of the correlation) as a function of time 0.4600738487 0.0045603249 0.4920510998 0.0063872072
Multiplier for best logarithmic fit (using log-linear regression) (1932-1959) 0.997579501 0.9973921665
Mean (1960-1969) 1.6153 -0.0406
Median (1960-1969) 1.6275 -0.044
Standard deviation (1960-1969) 0.1265473561 0.0321116109
Slope for best linear fit (using linear regression) (1960-1969) -0.0410363636 0.0013818182
R^2 -- goodness of linear fit (square of the correlation) as a function of time 0.9639245164 0.01697419
Multiplier for best logarithmic fit (using log-linear regression) (1960-1969) 0.9749241926


Other data on fertility

Fertility broken down further

Other social and demographic indicators related to fertility

Social structures and policies

Empirical data on measures related to fertility

References