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Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite: Exploring the role of governance in fertility decline

  • Monica Das Gupta

A secular decline in fertility has taken place across the globe within a short span of human history. The timing and pace of this decline correspond broadly with changes in socio-political institutions in different regions of the world, of Asia, and of India. We hypothesise that this shift in child-bearing behaviour is related to cognitive changes wrought by the replacement of deeply hierarchical socio-political institutions by the more egalitarian institutions of modern governance. These changes have enabled socio-economic mobility and enhanced people's ability to shape their lives, internalising more of the positive and negative implications of their decisions, including childbearing decisions. Recent work in development economics argues that polities which foster local accountability are the most conducive to rapid development, and we argue that they also foster personal efficacy and rapid fertility decline. If true, our hypotheses indicate that development and fertility decline can be expected to be associated, though not necessarily sequential in nature. They also indicate that some policy settings are likely to effect a 'win-win' situation of rapid development and fertility decline, while others are likely to generate the converse 'lose-lose' outcomes.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Development Studies.

Volume (Year): 35 (1999)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
Pages: 1-25

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:35:y:1999:i:5:p:1-25
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  1. Pollak, R.A. & Watkins, S.C., 1993. "Cultural and Economic Approaches to Fertility : A Proper Marriage or a Mesalliance?," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 93-11, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  2. Wade, Robert, 1985. "The market for public office: Why the Indian state is not better at development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 467-497, April.
  3. Pranab Bardhan, 1996. "Decentralised Development," Indian Economic Review, Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, vol. 31(2), pages 139-156, July.
  4. Daron Acemoglu & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Why Did The West Extend The Franchise? Democracy, Inequality, And Growth In Historical Perspective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1167-1199, November.
  5. Isham, Jonathan & Narayan, Deepa & Pritchett, Lant, 1995. "Does Participation Improve Performance? Establishing Causality with Subjective Data," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 9(2), pages 175-200, May.
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