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How Different is Male from Female Fertility?

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Lack of data has often been mentioned as one of the main reasons for the limited number of studies on male fertility. Yet, the data that do exist have been largely untapped. In a brand-new and critical study, Bruno Schoumaker explored vital statistics, surveys, and censuses from 163 countries to provide a broad overview of male fertility around the world and over time, and to identify the factors leading to differences between male and female fertility levels and trends.

Results indicate that male and female fertility are very different in many countries of the world and, overall, male fertility levels are much more diverse than female fertility levels. While they are very close in Western countries, the most common pattern around the world is one of higher fertility among men. In half of the countries, male fertility is at least 15 percent higher than female fertility, and it is at least 50 percent higher in 30 countries, most of them in sub‐Saharan Africa. Male fertility is also always later than female fertility, and sometimes much later. Among the 163 countries studied, the mean age at fatherhood is on average 35 years, compared to 29 years for the mean female age at childbearing. The smallest gaps (2 years) are found in Asia (Japan, China, Turkmenistan), and the largest gaps (around 16 years) in sub‐Saharan Africa (Gambia, Guinea‐Bissau).

Author(s) of the original publication: 
Daniela Vono de Vilhena