General Fertility Rate
The General Fertility Rate is the birth rate of women of child
bearing age (age 15-44). While births to women less than 15 or
more than 44 years are included in the general fertility rate, the
population for those ages are not. These births represent only a
minute portion of the total births. In 1994, for example, births
to these women represented only about one-half of one percent of
all births in the state. These births are particularly important
from a medical perspective, but are not a significant proportion of
The general fertility rate is calculated by dividing the total
number of births in a given year by the number of women aged 15
through 44 and multiplying by 1,000. For example, in 1994, there
were a total of 34,744 live births to the residents of Arkansas.
It is estimated that there were 516,570 women aged 15 through 44 in
the state. Therefore, the General Fertility Rate = (34,744 /
516,570) X 1,000 = 67.3 births per 1,000 women 15-44. In other
words, about one out of every 15 women of child bearing years in
Arkansas gave birth in 1994. By way of comparison, the general
fertility rate for the United States in 1994 was 67.1 births per
1,000 women 15-44.
It should be noted that the calculation of the general fertility
rate is limited solely to live births. It is not a pregnancy rate
and does not include induced abortions, fetal deaths (stillbirths),
or spontaneous abortions (miscarriages).
The general fertility rate is the best overall indicator of
reproductive behavior and success. Another related statistic, the
crude birth rate, computed as the ratio of the number of births to
the total population, is more affected by population differences in
age and sex ratio. Therefore the crude birth rate is a better
measure of tax burden and other economic statistics than the
general fertility rate. The two statistics are not comparable.
For the period of 1990 through 1994, the average general fertility
rate was 67.9. There is substantial variation in fertility rates
throughout the state.
Fertility rates appear to be highest in eastern Arkansas. For the
1990-1994 period, general fertility rates averaged from a low of
53.3 in Clark County to a high of 97.4 in Phillips County. The
high and low averages in the Health Management Areas for the same
time period, were 81.3 in Area 9 and 61.1 in Area 10.
General fertility varies a great deal by race. General fertility
for White women was 63.5 for the five-year period, while Black
women had a much higher rate at 89.3.
The Arkansas general fertility rate increased slightly, but
insignificantly, in 1994. The state's general fertility rate has
paralleled that of the U.S.; rising slightly from 1987 to 1990,
then dropping from 1991 to 1993. In 1994, however, the U.S. rate
continued declining, while Arkansas' rate increased slightly.
Despite slight increases and decreases, the U.S. and Arkansas rates
have remained fairly constant since 1980.
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