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Socio-economic development and fertility decline: an application of the Easterlin synthesis approach to data from the World Fertility Survey: Colombia, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka and Tunisia.
New York, New York, United Nations, 1991. ix, 115 p. (ST/ESA/SER.R/101)The relationship between fertility decline and development is explored for Colombia, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, and Tunisia. The study applies Richard Easterlin and Eileen Crimmins; theoretical and empirical approach to analyzing World Fertility Survey (WFS) data in a comparative context. The paper specifically questions the strengths and weaknesses of the Easterlin-Crimmins framework when applied to developing country data, and what the framework implies about comparative fertility in these countries. 3 stages in all, an analyst 1st decomposes a couple's final number of children ever born through an intermediate variables framework. Stage 2 emphasized understanding the determinants of contraceptive use, while stage 3 explains the remaining stage-1 and stage-2 variables. A model linking the supply of children, the demand for children, and the cost of contraceptive regulation results. Stage 1 results were promising, stage 2 results were less encouraging, while stage 3 revealed a theoretically incomplete approach employing empirically weak WFS data. While the Easterlin-Crimmins approach may be promising, econometric, theoretical, and data quality and collection improvements are necessary. Among stage-3 variables open to manipulation, higher socioeconomic status was associated with delayed age at 1st marriage, lower infant and child death rates, lower numbers of children desired, increased knowledge of contraception, and reduced levels of breastfeeding. Apart from regional differences, the educational and occupational roles of women in the countries studied were of primary importance in understanding differential fertility.