The Dual Fertility Transition and its Consequences in Malaysia

Urbanization, Consumption and Culture Seminar Series

About the Seminar

In 1965, of the three main ethnic communities in Malaysia, the Indians had the highest fertility of about 6.6 children per woman, followed by the Chinese (5.9) and the Bumiputra (5.7). Following the launching of the national family planning programme in 1966, the total fertility rate of the Indians and Chinese declined sharply to about 5 and 4.6 respectively in 1970, while that of the Bumiputera declined more modestly to 5.2. The fertility rate of the Chinese and Indians continued to decline more rapidly to an ultra-low level of 1.2 and 1.3 respectively today, and at about half the level of the Bumiputera.

Factors affecting the fertility decline include government policies, socio-economic factors such as education, women employment and empowerment, rising income, urbanisation, and low infant mortality rates, which operated through delayed marriage and increased contraceptive use.

The continuing decline in fertility has resulted in labour shortage and an influx of migrant workers making up about 10 percent of the total population today. The age structure of the population has changed significantly, with an increasing proportion in the working-age groups. The Chinese community is the oldest with an ageing index of 55%, followed by the Indians (31%) and the Bumiputera (19%). The declining share of the Chinese and Indian population from 34% and 9% in 1970 to about 24% and 7% respectively has important implications on the political demography.

The fertility level is not expected to decline to an ultra-low level in the near future as the fertility of the Bumiputera has leveled off in the last decade, and the scope for further decline for the Chinese and Indians is limited.

About the Speaker

Tey Nai Peng (BEcons, and Ph.D. public health, UM and Master of Science, University of Michigan) is a research fellow at the Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya (UM), where he retired as an Associate Professor of Applied Statistics in 2005. He was the coordinator of the Population Studies Unit of UM until 2018. He was the research director at the National Population and Family Development Board (NPFDB) for 18 years before joining UM in 1992, and he been a Board member and chairman of the research committee of NPFDB since 2000. He has conducted several national demographic surveys including the Malaysian Population and Family Survey, and the Malaysian Family Life Survey (in collaboration with the Rand Corporation in 1988). His research interest is on ageing and gender issues and population dynamics. He has published 70 articles in journals and books. He has served as a demographic consultant to NPFDB, government agencies, international organizations, UN agencies, and private companies.


For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 18 August 2019


Aug 19 2019


10:00 am - 11:30 am


ISEAS Seminar Room 2