The Contribution of Assisted Reproduction to Completed Fertility: An Analysis of Danish Data



Assisted reproduction has a minor but increasing influence on childbearing trends in advanced societies. In Denmark, the use of assisted reproduction technology (ART) has become particularly widespread. At the same time, Danish women born in the late 1950s and the 1960s experienced stabilization or even a slight increase in their mean number of children. Broad availability and widespread use of assisted reproduction may become important factors contributing to maintaining relatively high completed fertility among the younger cohorts of Danish women. To explore this idea, we analyze and project cohort trends in fertility rates among native Danish women born in 1960-78 and examine the likely contribution of assisted reproduction to these trends. The projected proportion of children born after ART treatment shows a substantial increase from 2.1 percent among women born in 1965 to 4-5 percent among women born in 1978, with an estimated net impact of ART (as compared with the hypothetical situation where no ART treatment was available) on the order of 3-4 percent. When intrauterine inseminations are included, this implies that up to 7 percent of children of those native Danish women born in 1975 and later will likely be conceived by infertility treatment.