Fertility policy and practice: a Toolkit for the Asia-Pacific region

May 10, 2023


Fertility policy and practice

May 10, 2023

Emily Tiemann


Emily is a Manager with Economist Impact’s Health Policy Team. She works with global clients, developing and delivering evidence-based health policy projects across a wide range of priority areas. Prior to joining the Economist Group, Emily worked in private healthcare in Canada followed by health policy and regulation in the UK, managing strategic programs and policy reviews, and working closely with the Department of Health. 

Emily holds a Master’s degree in Women’s Health from University College London and a degree in Biology from McGill University.

The fertility rates of many countries in the Asia Pacific region (APAC) have been drastically declining over the past 70 years. This has had an impact not only on the population size of these countries, but also on the structure of the population. South Korea has the lowest total fertility rate (TFR) in the world at 0.8, well below the replacement rate of 2.1, and Singapore and Japan are not much higher, at 1.1 and 1.3 respectively. Along with this, the population of older persons (aged over 60) in the region is expected to triple between 2010 and 2050. 
Policies such as parental leave, baby bonus schemes, and assisted reproductive technology (ART) subsidies have been implemented as a way to tackle these slowing fertility rates. But what effect do these policies have on fertility rates in practice, and how do they compare?  
Fertility policy and practice: a Toolkit for the Asia-Pacific region” is an Economist Impact report sponsored by Merck. The Toolkit provides policymakers in the APAC region an evidence base that can be used when discussing policies to address falling fertility rates in a user-friendly way, where the evidence behind effectiveness is clearly explained. This Toolkit provides a menu of policy options that APAC countries can explore, allowing them to choose actions most appropriate for their economies and where they stand along their fertility transition.
Economist Impact would like to thank the following individuals who generously offered their time and insights for this report, including:
  • Georgina M Chambers: Director, National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit, University of New South Wales, Australia 
  • Ha Anh Duc: Chief of Cabinet Office, Ministry of Health, Vietnam 
  • Osamu Ishihara: Professor, Clinical Medicine & Director of Nutrition Clinic at Kagawa Nutrition University, Japan 
  • Nai Peng Tey: Demographer and former associate professor of Statistics, University of Malaya, Malaysia 
  • Kamthorn Pruksananonda: Professor of OBGYN and Reproductive Medicine, Chulalongkorn University and Chairman of the Reproductive Medicine Subcommittee at The Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Bangkok, Thailand
  • Lih Rong Wang: Professor, National Taiwan University, Department of Social Work, Taiwan 
  • Ir. Dwi Listyawardani: Acting Deputy Chairman for Population Management in the National Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN), Indonesia 
  • P C Wong: Emeritus Consultant, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, National University Hospital, Singapore 
  • Turro Wongkaren: Director, Institute for Advanced Studies in Economics and Business, Indonesia 
  • Nasuha Yaacob: Specialist in OB/GYN, and Member of Ministry of Health in National Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Policy, Malaysia

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