Documentation
Metadata
Data Licence Agreement  
 
CHILDREN EVER BORN
 
 
Definition
 
Children ever born (CEB) to women in a particular age group is the mean number of children born alive to women in that age group. The number of children ever born to a particular woman is a measure of her lifetime fertility experience up to the moment at which the data are collected.
 
   
 
Method of computation
 

In most cases, the mean number of children ever born is computed as the ratio of the number of children born alive to all women in a particular age group to the number of women. In cases where the total number of children born to women in the age group is not provided but a tabulation is available on the distribution of women by age-group and number of children ever born, the mean number of children ever born to women in the age-group is obtained as:

Where j is the number of children and Pj is the proportion of women in that age-group who have given birth to a total of j children.

 
   
  Data sources
 

Data on children ever born can be obtained from censuses or sample surveys from questions regarding the number of children born alive to each woman. The availability of survey and census data depends on the existence of adequate survey or census programmes in a country or area. Censuses are generally conducted every 10 years. Surveys are undertaken at different intervals in different countries. In developing countries they typically take place every three to five years.

 
   
  Criteria for estimate selection
 
In World Fertility Data 2008 direct estimates produced by national statistics offices are given priority. When the direct estimates are unavailable, children ever born is computed by the United Nations Population Division based on available data.
  1. For censuses, preference is given to data reported by national statistical offices to the United Nations Statistics Division. Data are also taken from census reports and other analytical publications produced by national statistics offices. The latter are preferred when data on CEB compiled by the United Nations Statistics Division refer to a restricted age range or category of women (such as ever-married or currently married women) and more detailed information is available from national sources.
  1. For surveys, whenever the estimates are available in the survey report they are directly taken from the report. In other cases, if microdata are available, estimates are produced by the United Nations Population Division based on national data. The main surveys utilized are the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), the Reproductive Health Surveys (RHS), the World Fertility Survey (WFS), the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), the Contraceptive Prevalence Surveys (CPS), and other nationally sponsored surveys.
 
   
  Criteria for data source selection and reporting
 

Generally, only one source is provided per year for a country. When more than one source is available for the same period, precedence is given to estimates based on censuses. However, where such estimates are unavailable or incomplete, survey estimates are used. In countries with multiple survey programmes, sample surveys conducted on an annual or biennial basis are used where they exist.

For each data point, information is provided on the source type (census or survey) and the source (usually denoted by an acronym). A description of each acronym is given in the data file in the worksheet labeled "Sources". For surveys that are not part of an international survey programme, the full name is provided in the field "Survey name".

 
   
  Comments and limitations
 

Data on children ever born for successive age groups of women of post-reproductive age (ages 45 or above) provide information about trends in completed cohort fertility to the extent that the women providing the information are not very different in their fertility behaviour from the original birth cohort (that is, provided that death and migration have a minor effect on the estimates), and provided that omission of children who have died is not a serious problem. The mean number of children ever born to women currently aged 15-19 years and women aged 20-24 years are useful summary measures of the timing of onset of fertility. In particular, the number of children ever born to women 15-19 is very closely associated with the adolescent birth rate.

In some countries, particularly where childbearing is uncommon outside of marriage, data on children ever born are only available for ever-married women or (more rarely) for currently married women. For purposes of comparability, these figures have been converted to figures corresponding to all women by multiplying the corresponding mean number of children ever born by the proportion of ever-married or currently married women in that age group. Notes in the data file are employed to indicate such cases.

In World Fertility Data 2008, El-Badry corrected estimates1 are used when reported by the national statistical office.

 
   
  Discrepancies between estimates presented in World Fertility Data 2008 and other estimates
 

Generally, there is no discrepancy between estimates presented in World Fertility Data 2008 and data on children ever born reported by national statistical offices. Estimates of children ever born reported in World Fertility Data 2008, however, may differ from those reported by the United Nations Statistics Division and published in the Demographic Yearbook due to the treatment of the nonresponse category.

 
   
  Treatment of missing values
 

There is no attempt to provide estimates when country data are not available.

 
   
  Data coverage and periodicity
 

World Fertility Data 2008 contains data on children ever born for 217 countries or areas of the world. Data are provided, where available, for five different data points: the years closest to 1970, 1985 and 1995, and the two most recent available estimates after 1999. Data are available for five reference dates for 35 countries or areas.

 
   
  1 United Nations (1983). Manual X: Indirect Techniques for Demographic Estimation (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.83.XIII.2), annex II.  
   

 

 

  Suggested citation:
United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2009). World Fertility Data 2008 (POP/DB/Fert/Rev2008).