Fertility indicators

In the years around 2020, approximately 800 children are born annually in Greenland. When fertility is calculated on small populations, all derived demographic measures, which are only slightly more sophisticated than the ‘birth rate’ (number of live births per 1000 inhabitants) will be heavily affected by random variations. To reduce the influence of calendar effects, demographic measures are calculated at age x, for several subsequent years below. This calculation assumes that there is not too great a difference in the size of the mothers cohorts.

Women’s fertile ages are generally assumed to be between the ages of 15-49. 96 per cent of all Greenlandic birth giving mothers are aged 18-42.

Figure 1a shows the annual number of live births since 1950. Especially in the 1960s, many children were born due to extremely high fertility, which can be seen in figure 1b. In the latter half of the 1960s, total fertility dropped sharply to around 2½ children per woman. Over the past 10 years, total fertility has fallen further to around 2.1 children per woman.

Figur 1a Antal levendefødte

kilde: Statistikbanken

Figur 1b Samlet fertilitet

kilde: Statistikbanken

Indhold - fertilitetsmål

Summarisk fertilitet
Generel fertilitet
Regionalt fertilitetsindeks
Aldersbetinget og samlet fertilitet


As base for calculations of demographic indicators, Statistics Greenland provides access to very detailed tables in Greenland’s Statistics Bank, including, for example, a Population Account:


The table BEEFERTR contains detailed information on age and place of birth of the women who gave birth, distributed among the same geographical-administrative units as the regional population accounts:


It is divided into the following geographical-administrative units:municipalities, districts, localities by size, Nuuk, City/village, The whole country

The divisions have been made so that the sum in each group is equal to the sum for the whole country (Total).

Summarisk fertilitetskvotient

“The Birth rate is the simplest indicator and is calculated as the annual number of live births per 1000 inhabitants.However, this denominator also include men as well as women below and above the childbearing age (15-49 years), as a comparison of the Birth rate between two populations can show differences which are solely due to a different proportion of women of childbearing age .”

source: Matthiessen, Poul Chr.: fertility in Den Store Danske on lex.dk.Retrieved 11 August 2021

Due to the very limited information required for calculation, the target is available for virtually all countries of the world, see: World Bank

In 2021, the Birth rate is calculated to be 13.5 for people born in Greenland and 13.6 for people born outside Greenland, living in Greenland. Only 1/3 of people born outside Greenland are women, while there are roughly the same number of men and women among those born in Greenland. Therefore, the measure is not suitable for comparisons broken down by place of birth. The same applies to regional comparisons, as foreign-born people largely live in Nuuk.

Statistics Greenland recommends that age-specific/total fertility be used for fertility comparisons between areas or over time.

kilde: Statistikbanken

Generel fertilitetskvotient

“The general fertility rate is defined as the number of live births per 1000 women of childbearing age. Although the denominator of this measure only includes persons who are assumed to be able to give birth, the measure depends on the age distribution among women. A particularly high value of the general fertility quotient can thus be partly or wholly due to a large proportion of women in the 25-34 age group, where the fertility level is higher than in the other age groups.”

source: Matthiessen, Poul Chr.: fertility in Den Store Danske on lex.dk.Retrieved 11 August 2021

In 2021, the general fertility rate is calculated to 58,4 for persons born in Greenland and 59,6 for persons born outside Greenland, residing in Greenland. The steep decline in fertility around 1970 led to a sharp drop in the annual number of live births, so sharp that just 10 years later the birth cohorts had halved in size. The birth cohorts before the fertility decline are referred to as ‘the big cohorts’ and it is extremely important to have comparable measures that the age component is standardized.

Statistics Greenland recommends that age-specific/total fertility be used for fertility comparisons between areas or over time.

kilde: Statistikbanken

Aldersbetinget & samlet fertilitet

“The age-specific fertility quotients are obtained by calculating the number of live births per 1000 women in each 1-year or 5-year age group.The total fertility rate indicates the number of live births that 1000 women would give birth to during their fertile period if they gave birth in accordance with given age-specific fertility rates and lived through the entire fertile period.”

source: Matthiessen, Poul Chr.: fertility in Den Store Danske on lex.dk.Retrieved 11 August 2021

The age-specific fertility quotients and the sum of these over the fertile ages, which is called total fertility, are the most important measures for describing the fertility of a population.

Chart 2a shows these calculated on a 2-year and 5-year basis, respectively. It can be seen that the importance of random annual variations is significantly reduced when the calculation basis is larger.

Chart 2b shows the development in total fertility over the last r CONST_taar-1995 years. Since 2010, the total fertility level has been around 2.1 children per woman, which is the fertility level a population must have in order to reproduce itself, when migrations are disregarded.

Figur 2a Aldersbetinget fertilitet

Figur 2b Samlet fertilitet

The capital and the main residences are educational cities, which is why they attract young people in education, who have lower fertility than women of the same age who live in the smaller residences.

Women who live in the smaller settlements have children earlier than women in education. They both start and end earlier.

Figur 3a Aldersgrupper

Figur 3b 2021

Regionalt fertilitetsindeks

The regional fertility index is calculated by indirect standardization and expresses the ratio between the actual number of births in a region and the expected number of births if the women in the region give birth to children in accordance with the national average.

On demographic method, see Teoretisk Demografi, PC Matthiessen 1970

This calculation shows that the fertility level is fairly constant in the country’s municipalities, the size-grouped localities and most districts, especially when a 5-year average forms the basis of the calculations.

However, Qaanaaq and Ittoqqortoormiit stand out significantly with a fertility level that is similar to 2 and 2½ times the national average, with significantly greater uncertainty due to the size of the calculation base.