Open Access

Fertility Projections in a European Context: A Survey of Current Practices among Statistical Agencies

Journal of Official Statistics's Cover Image
Journal of Official Statistics
Special Issue on Population Statistics for the 21st Century


Projection studies have often focused on mortality and, more recently, migration. Fertility is less studied, although even small changes can have significant repercussions for the size and age structure of future populations. Across Europe, there is no consensus on how fertility is best projected. In this article, we identify different approaches used to project fertility among statistical agencies in Europe and provide an assessment of the different approaches according to the producers themselves.

Data were collected using a mixed-method approach. First, European statistical agencies answered a questionnaire regarding fertility projection practices. Second, an in-depth review of select countries was performed.

Most agencies combine formal models with expert opinion. While many attempt to maximise the use of relevant inputs, there is more variation in the detail of outputs, with some agencies unable to account for changing age patterns. In a context of limited resources, most are satisfied with their approaches, though some are assessing alternative methodologies to improve accuracy and increase transparency.

This study highlights the diversity of approaches used in fertility projections across Europe. Such knowledge may be useful to statistical agencies as they consider, test and implement different approaches, perhaps in collaboration with other agencies and the wider scientific community.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Mathematics, Probability and Statistics