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Population Control Policies and Fertility Convergence

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  • Tiloka de Silva
  • Silvana Tenreyro

Abstract

Rapid population growth in developing countries in the middle of the 20th century led to fears of a population explosion and motivated the inception of what effectively became a global population-control program. The initiative, propelled in its beginnings by intellectual elites in the United States, Sweden, and some developing countries, mobilized resources to enact policies aimed at reducing fertility by widening contraception provision and changing family-size norms. In the following five decades, fertility rates fell dramatically, with a majority of countries converging to a fertility rate just above two children per woman, despite large cross-country differences in economic variables such as GDP per capita, education levels, urbanization, and female labor force participation. The fast decline in fertility rates in developing economies stands in sharp contrast with the gradual decline experienced earlier by more mature economies. In this paper, we argue that population-control policies likely played a central role in the global decline in fertility rates in recent decades and can explain some patterns of that fertility decline that are not well accounted for by other socioeconomic factors.

Suggested Citation

  • Tiloka de Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2017. "Population Control Policies and Fertility Convergence," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 205-228, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:31:y:2017:i:4:p:205-28
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.31.4.205
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    Cited by:

    1. Brian Beach & W. Walker Hanlon, 2019. "Censorship, Family Planning, and the Historical Fertility Transition," NBER Working Papers 25752, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Zsofia Barany & Nicolas Coeurdacier & Stéphane Guibaud, 2018. "Capital Flows in an Aging World," Sciences Po publications 13180, Sciences Po.
    3. Jorge M. Agüero, 2019. "Information and Behavioral Responses with More than One Agent: The Case of Domestic Violence Awareness Campaigns," Working papers 2019-04, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    4. Wang, Qingfeng, 2018. "Missing Women, Gender Imbalance and Sex Ratio at Birth: Why the One-Child Policy Matters," MPRA Paper 95412, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 02 Aug 2019.
    5. de Silva, Tiloka & Tenreyro, Silvana, 2017. "The large fall in global fertility: A quantitative model," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86157, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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