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[Causal hypotheses on fertility: the preponderant role of the family unit] Hipotesis causales sobre fecundidad: el papel preponderante de la unidad familiar.
Revista Espanola de Investigaciones Sociologicas. 1983 Jan-Mar; (21):83-101.This article reviews fertility theories proposed by economists, sociologists, and demographers over the past few decades and assesses their suitability to the Spanish case. In the early 1960s the foundations for the so-called new home economics were laid by Becker and others of the Chicago school of microeconomics. Becker held that once contraception became available to all population groups, childbearing decisions would be made in the same way as those for any other consumer good. Becker concluded that income is a direct function of the number of children and their quality. In 1962 Friedmann, within the same model, argued that children like automobiles or any other good-were associated with benefits as well as costs. Judith Blake in 1968 criticized both positions, pointing out that the rich have not had more children in any developed society and that the acquisition of children is not under the same cost constraints as that of other goods. Modifications of the theory by Becker gave greater importance to sociological variables. Leibenstein proposed an explanatory model which related fertility change to economic development through an examination of costs and benefits at different stages. Easterlin used the theory of Kuznets cycles to argue that the size of a cohort is related negatively to its fertility, with the fundamental variable being the labor market. He later proposed a more elaborate model that synthesized economic and sociological arguments and introduced new variables with emphasis on endogenous preferences and ferility. Use of sociological concepts such as "tastes", "desires", and "behavior", and of the term "relative" to suggest subjective perceptions depending on cultural context has become common in economic theories of fertility. The only fertility model elaborated in demography is that of the demographic transition, which has been criticized for being more descriptive than explanatory. In sociology a series of variables have been related to fertility, with only partial success. Some of the hypotheses were studied by means of large surveys, a program culmintting in the World Fertility Survey. Fertility differentials by income and rural or urban residence have been the only 2 generalizable findings to date. Finally, the analytical model of Davis and Blake listed the intermediate variables through which social factors were related to fertility. Sociological explanations are increasing in importance for nonsociologists, especially economists and demographers, and family structure in particular has assumed strategic importance. A scarcity of empirical work on fertility in Spain has hampered testing of fertility theories there. Hypotheses bearing on the determinants of fertility decisions should be tested in Spain, with preconscious-factors such as imitation, pressure exerted by the family and social circle, and affective relations as well as structural factors examined.