Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite: Exploring the role of governance in fertility decline
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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Volume (Year): 35 (1999)
Issue (Month): 5 ()
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