Marital Fertility during the Korean Demographic Transition: An Analysis of Population-Register Data in Rural Area, 1920-1977

Bongoh Kye, Kookmin University
Heejin Park, Kyungpook National University

We examine the marital fertility patterns during the Korean demographic transition. Demographic transition was a fundamental transformation in human history, and has been a key topic in demographic inquiries. However, our understanding of demographic transition in East Asia is limited largely due to the lack of adequate data. By using the population register data in a rural Korea between 1920 and 1977, we attempt to contribute to the literature. After describing the historical contexts and discussing data issues, we test a key exposition of demographic transition theory: mortality decline was a necessary condition for fertility decline. We found that 1) decrease in infant mortality was crucial for fertility changes across birth cohorts, 2) the relationship between infant mortality and fertility became weaker, and 3) parity-specific fertility control emerged as fertility declined. The implications for these findings for the Korean demographic transition will be discussed.

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Presented in Session 28: Fertility in the Demographic Transition