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Demography India. 1984 Jan-Dec; 13(1-2):153-67.The threshold hypothesis shares with transition theory the basic assumption that a decline in fertility is interrelated with a decline in mortality and change in the social, economic, and cultural conditions of the population. However, threshold theory fails to formulate a causal chain between fertility and the other variables and its application at the aggregate country level is limited by intracountry heterogeneity in cultural and social variables. Problematic is the fixing of the timing for a country of a decline in fertility to be inferred from the fact that some indicators of development have reached the threshold zone while others have not. This paper attempts to develope a combined index for socioeconomic development on the basis of data from 12 countries of the ESCAP region of South East Asia. Variables included were life expectancy at birth, infant mortality rate, adult female literacy, percentages of females economically active, GNP per capita, and percentage urban population. In 1970, 3 of the countries analyzed had a crude birth rate below 25, 6 countries had a rate between 25-40, and 3 had a rate above 40. The lowest value of the index recorded for countries of low fertility (crude birth rate below 25) and the highest value recorded for countries of high fertility (above 40) are taken as the threshold zones for the overall index. The number of countries in the threshold range increased from 5 in 1970 to 8 in 1975. With the increase in the index value, a reduction in the fertility level was noted. In contrast, where socioeconomic development was slow, fertility showed little change. Policy makers could use this system to assess which indicator could be pushed through to raise the overall index of development so as to effect a decline in fertility.
In: Aspects of population change and development in some African and Asian countries. Cairo, Egypt, Cairo Demographic Centre, 1984. 43-56. (CDC Research Monograph Series no. 9)This paper examines the relationship between economic development and demographic change in the 13 states of the Economic Commission for West Asia (ECWA) region. Demographic variables considered include per capita income, proportion urban, proportion in urban areas with over 100,000 inhabitants, literacy among those over 15 years, and literacy among women. Unweighted rankings on these variables were added to produce a development ranking or general development index. Then this index was used to investigate the relationship between development and individual scores and rankings for various demographic indices. The development index exhibited a rough fit with the mortality indices, especially life expectancy at birth. Mortality decline appears to be most closely related to rise in income. At the same income level, countries that have experienced substantial social change tend to exhibit the lowest mortality, presumably because of a loosening in family role patterns. In contrast, the relationship between development and fertility measures seemed to be almost random. A far closer correlation was noted between the former and the general development index. It is concluded that economic development alone will not reduce fertility. Needed are 2 changes: 1) profound social change in the family and in women's status, achievable through increases in female education, and 2) government family planning programs to ensure access to contraception.