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    Socio-economic determinants of fertility: an assessment of recent findings and their implications.

    Cleland JG

    In: Population policies and programmes: current status and future directions, [compiled by] United Nations. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific [ESCAP]. New York, New York, United Nations, 1987. 43-58. (Asian Population Studies Series No. 84; ST/ESCAP/563)

    The influence of socioeconomic factors on marital fertility and its connection to population policies is the purpose of a recent UN study. It has been found that birth control can effect the rate of decline but not initiate reproductive change. Events over the last 30 years indicate that a decline in marital fertility once started in a population will continue much further. In Europe declines in fertility between late 1800's and early 1900's were significant with no association to the socioeconomic conditions. For example, England at the time was highly industrialized; Bulgaria on the other hand was mainly agricultural, clearly eliminating simple economic reasons. Life expectancy and education show a stronger relationship with fertility decline than economic factors, and are analyzed more. Declining child mortality can change population policies of governments and practices of parents where irreversible birth control dominate. There appear to be no definite socioeconomic barriers to fertility decline, since a decline has occurred in populations with poverty, illiteracy and subsistence agriculture conditions. The conclusion from previous evidence indicates fertility decline starts because of acceptance of major behavioral changes, i.e., birth control, which allow parents to prevent unwanted children. There seems to be little in the way that governments can influence levels of fertility by socioeconomic levels. Education, on the other hand, can effect fertility but has the drawback of a generational lag. In the immediate future, the promotion of birth control and the expansion of services for the less educated and rural people should offer the most progress.
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