Friday, March 8, 2019

Total Fertility Rate



Yair Assaf-Shapira

Most of the variables we work with are calculated for both men and women, but there is one variable that is only measured for women. In honor of International Women's Day, this column examines the topic of fertility.

About a decade ago, in 2007, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in Jerusalem was 3.96 children per woman. The Total Fertility Rate is the number of children a woman is expected to give birth to in her lifetime. The rate in the entire country at the time was 2.90. That same year the rate among Arab women in both Israel (3.62) and in Jerusalem (4.07) was higher than that of Jewish women (2.71 and 3.96, respectively). The data are taken from the Jerusalem Statistical Yearbook, slated to be published on Jerusalem Day in about three months.

A dramatic decrease was recorded over the past ten years in the fertility rate of Arab women, both in the country as a whole and in Jerusalem, alongside a rise in the fertility rates of Jewish women in Israel and in Jerusalem, mainly during the years 2007-2012.Today, the total fertility rate in Israel among Jewish and Arab women is almost identical (3.05 among Jewish women and 3.16 among Arab women), while in Jerusalem the Arab women, on average, have fewer children (3.33) than the Jewish women do (4.27).

What is the reason for the steep decline in the fertility rates of Arab women? It may be that the significant factor is a rise in the level of education and in modernization, and it is possible that the trend is related to the low fertility rates in neighboring Arab countries, such as Jordan (3.38), Egypt (3.27), Saudi Arabia (2.53), and Lebanon (1.72 children per woman). The data are from The World Bank.

A change in the total fertility rate is the first indicator of a change in the natural growth rate and population growth. Since the process has been underway for more than a decade, we are already seeing this expressed in the younger cohort sizes in the Jewish population, which are growing quickly from year to year, while among the Arab population these cohorts remain similar in size from year to year. The implications may span many areas, from health infrastructure to housing shortage.

Translated by Gilah Kahn-Hoffmann



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