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Fertility Rate: Definition & Calculation

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  • 0:00 What Is a Fertility Rate?
  • 1:05 Calculating Fertility Rate
  • 1:53 Why Use Fertility Rates?
  • 2:30 What Impacts Fertility Rates?
  • 3:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde
We all know what fertility means in our own lives, either from personal experience or learned in school or life. Ever think about the fertility rate, or wonder what it is? Read on to find out what fertility rate means, how it is calculated, and why we even want to know.

What Is a Fertility Rate?

The word 'fertility' can mean many things depending on the situation. Those trying for a family are interested in their chances of conceiving, and those in sociology may be interested for statistics. When we talk about fertility rate, we mean the number of live births in women over a specific length of time. Fertility rate is generally expressed as the number of births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 in a calendar year. It can be easily be confused with total fertility rate, which calculates how many children a hypothetical woman would have assuming she lives until 44 and has the same fertility rate in the future as women in the population currently have.

To help with the confusion, think of it this way: The two rates use the same data, but report very different numbers. For instance, in the United States, the total fertility rate is approximately 1.9, while the fertility rate is 62.5. Quite a difference! Let's look at how to calculate fertility rate.

Calculating Fertility Rate

Figuring out fertility rates may seem daunting but it really isn't. Let's look at some numbers to help clear things up. In 2010, there were 75,000 live births for a population of 1.25 million women between the ages of 15 and 44. What is the fertility rate for this year? To figure this out, we take 75,000 births divided by 1,250,000 women - which comes out to 0.06 births per woman. Then we multiply 0.06 by 1,000 women, for an answer of…drum roll please…….a fertility rate of 60 births per 1,000 women in 2010. Make sense? Now that you know how to calculate a fertility rate, let's dive right into why.

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