Human fertility (measured by total fertility rate, TFR) varies widely even among populations without any artificial fertility control, whereas the age pattern of fertility is similar across populations. Proximate determinants of fertility are useful tools for understanding why fertility varies across populations and ages in general. In this chapter, we argue that Wood’s proximate determinants of fertility are useful in decomposing the mechanisms of low fertility in Japan, and we provide definitions of the terminology used in this book, such as fertility, fecundity, fecundability, and infertility. Social characteristics interact with biology to form fertility trend. For example, the increasing age at marriage and childbearing is suspected to reduce fertility by lengthening fecund waiting time to conception and increasing the probability of fetal loss, both of which are proximate determinants affected by reproductive aging. Social norm characteristics in Japan, such as long working hours, can also lengthen fecund waiting time to conception, likely through decreased frequency of sexual intercourse and increased probability of anovulatory menstrual cycles. Other factors may also influence these and other proximate determinants, including reproductive aging, assisted reproductive technology (ART), and environmental chemicals, although less is known about how these other factors may influence individual- and population-level fertility measures.
KeywordsFecundability Fecundity Fertility Infertility Proximate determinants Biodemography Japan TFR
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