In the social sciences, fertility refers to the actual production of offspring. The term is distinguished from fecundity, which is the biological ability to reproduce, and from fecundability, which is the probability of conception. A woman who is infecund is infertile. A fecund woman may decide not to have children, and she too is described as infertile because she has not produced offspring. A woman may be able to conceive (i.e., she is fecundable), but if she cannot carry a pregnancy to term she is infecund and hence infertile. This entry first describes indicators of fertility and then examines variations in fertility over the individual life cycle. The concluding section describes long-range fertility trends and their determinants in the developed and developing world.

Measures of Fertility

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