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    New currents and emerging emphasis in research and policy.

    Page HJ

    In: United Nations. Department of International Economic and Social Affairs. Population Division. Fertility and family. New York, New York, United Nations, 1984. 107-23. (International Conference on Population, 1984; Statements)

    The Expert Group Meeting on Fertility and Family was assinged the identification of those areas in current scientific knowledge and concerns regarding fertility and family that were of greatest salience for policy formulation and implementation. Particular attention was to be paid to shifts that had occurred since the 1974 World Population Conference in Bucharest. This article is mainly an overview of the work of the Group and is organized around 3 main themes: 1) advances in knowledge of fertility levels and trends; 2) advances in understanding the relations between development, fertility and the family; 3)theoretical advances and practical experience with regard to policy formulation and implementation. 1) Knowledge of existing patterns of fertility and their composition has increased markedly over the last decade as a result of more data, better estimation techniques for measuring fertility levels and of new approaches to studying the reporductive process and family formation (e.g., the development of analytical models that allow quantification of the role of the various proximate determinants of fertility). A far-reaching realization is that proximate determinants of fertility may respond to the same set of factors but their responses may exhibit different elasticities. 2) In the understanding the relations between development, fertility and family, 2 main areas of concern can be identified. He level and type of analyses to date, especially the empirical ones, have been carried out at the micro-level, focusing on the individual decision maker. Although such models are advances over earlier ones developed largely from classical demographic transition theory, yet, their use has not been entirely satisfying because of the common failure to adequately specify the concepts involved and/or to substitute for them broad socioeconomic indicators in empirical work. In addition, institutional supports for and interrelations with particular patterns of fertility and family have been neglected, resulting, theoretical and practical impoverishment. The 2nd area of concern is the identification of those dimensions of family structure and function that are most intimately interlocked with modernization and fertility change. The discussion focuses on the interplay between modernization, the relationship between the generations, and between the sexes. Finally, there is an increasing awareness that a number of aspirations regarding fertility and family may be contradictory with respect to general advances in policcy formulation and implementation. 4 important trends can be discerned: 1) assessment of the potential utility and effectiveness of policy and programmatic efforts; 2) trends in the definition of desirable goals; 3) new directions in terms of the institutiona means for achieving these goals; and 4) shifts in the perception of the individual's freedom of choice.
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