Population Density and Fertility
Maria Rita Testa, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Ecological factors, such as population density, have played a marginal role in the demographic analysis of human fertility, which is primarily seen as socially determined, especially in the late phases of the demographic transition. However, population density may be an important psychological determinant of fertility, if it is considered as perceived living space and not as a factor operating only through direct biological mechanisms. In our paper we investigate the relationship population density and fertility on a world scale, by using time-series data for 187 countries, as well as on national scale, by analyzing data of Indonesia and Italy at provincial level. A significant negative correlation is found between population density and fertility after controlling for background variables. Moreover, a negative relationship between population density and desired fertility is evidenced in the European Union, which supports the hypothesis of relevant impact of living space in determining the level of fertility.