Fertility Forecasting in the German-speaking World:
Recent Experience and Opportunities for Improvement

Joshua R. Goldstein, Felix Rößger, Ina Jaschinski, Alexia Prskawetz


In this article, the official fertility projections of the statistical agencies in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are examined. We refer to the literature on this topic and the history of fertility projections in all three countries. We conclude that the basis of fertility projections is the persistence of the present. We then investigate the most recent projections in more detail – with special regard for their consistency of timing and level changes of fertility. This shows that in the low fertility context, such as in the three countries under consideration, where fertility postponement is expected to stop sometime in upcoming decades, the medium assumptions of constancy contain an implicit decline in the forecasted level of fertility. Both tempo and cohort perspectives on projected fertility reveal this conclusion. Consequently, we suggest that agencies should deal explicitly with the prospect of postponement and their effect on fertility levels. The Bongaarts-Feeney framework or similar ones could be used. We also provide examples of three consistent variants (low, medium, and high) in the case of Germany, and show that such a forecast can in some cases outperform the usual constant level forecast in a low-fertility context.


Fertility; Projections; Forecasts; Tempo; Statistical agencies

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