Fertility is the actual level of childbearing for an individual or a population. The level of fertility in a society is based on biological and social factors, the primary biological factor being the number of women of childbearing age (usually between ages 15 and 45). Other biological factors affecting fertility include the general health and level of nutrition of women of childbearing age. Social factors influencing the level of fertility include the roles available to women in a society and prevalent viewpoint, regarding what constitutes the “ideal” family size. Based on biological capability alone. most women could produce twenty or 11I0re children during their
childbearing years. Fecundity is the potential number.
of children who could be born if every woman reproduced at her maximum biological capacity. Fertility rates arc not as high as fecundity rates because pcoplcs
biological capabilities are limited by social factors such as practicing voluntary abstinence and refraining from sexual intercourse until an older age. as well as by
contraception, voluntary sterilization, abortion, and infanticide. Additional social factors affecting fertility include significant changes in the number of available: partners for sex and/or marriage (as a result of war, for example), increases in the number or women of childbearing age in the work force, and high rates of unemployment. In some countries, governmental policies also affect the fertility rate. For exam pi China’s two-decades-old policy of allowing only one child per family in order to limit population growth.
will result in that country’s population starting to decline in 2042, according to United Nations projections (Beech, 200J). The most basic measure of fertility is the crude birth rate-the number of live births per 1,000 people in a population in a given year. In 2008 the crude birth rate in the United States was almost 14 (13.82) per 1,000, as compared with an all-time high rate of 27 per 1,000 in 1947 (following World War 11). This measure is referred to as a “crude” birth rate because it is based
on the entire population and is not “refined” to incorporate significant variables affecting fertility, such as age, marital status, religion, and race/ethnicity. In most areas of the world, women arc having fewer children. Women who have six or seven children tend to live in agricultural region of the world, where .children’s labor is essential to the family’s economic survival and child mortality rates arc very high, For example, Uganda has a (Tude birth rate of almost ~8 (47.8) per 1.000. as compared with J 4 per l,OOOin the United States (U.S. Ce nsus Bureau. 2009). However. in Uganda and some other African nations. families need to have many children in order to ensure that one or two will live to adulthood due to high rates of poverty.