The fertility rate is the average number of children born per woman of child-bearing age in a country. Usually, a woman aged between 15 and 45 is considered to be in her child-bearing years. The fertility rate of a country provides an insight into its economic state, as well as the level of health and education of its population.
Developing countries usually have a higher fertility rate due to lack of access to birth control and contraception, and to women usually foregoing a higher education, or even any education at all, in favor of taking care of housework. Many families in poorer countries also need their children to help provide for the family by starting to work early and/or as caretakers for their parents in old age.
In developed countries, fertility rates and birth rates are usually much lower, as birth control is easier to obtain and women often choose a career before becoming a mother. Additionally, if the number of women of child-bearing age declines, so does the fertility rate of a country. As can be seen above, countries like Hong Kong are a good example for women leaving the patriarchal structures and focusing on their own career instead of becoming a mother at a young age, causing a decline of the country’s fertility rate. A look at the fertility rate per woman worldwide by income group also shows that women with a low income tend to have more children than those with a high income. The United States are neither among the countries with the lowest, nor among those with the highest fertility rate, by the way. At 2.08 children per woman, the fertility rate in the US has been continuously slightly below the global average of about 2.4 children per woman over the last decade.