Liberte, egalite, fraternite : exploring the role of governance in fertility decline
Within a short span of human history, a secular decline in fertility has taken place around the world. The timing and pace of this decline correspond broadly with changes in sociopolitical institutions indifferent parts of the world. The author hypothesizes that this shift in childbearing behavior is related to cognitive changes wrought by the move from deeply hierarchical sociopolitical institutions to more egalitarian institutions of modern governance. These changes have enabled socioeconomic mobility and improved people's ability to shape their own lives, internalizing more of the positive and negative implications of their decisions, including those about childbearing. Recent work in development economics argues that policies that foster local accountability are the most conducive to rapid development. The author argues that they also foster personal efficacy and rapid fertility decline. If true, her hypotheses indicate that one can expect development and fertility decline to be associated. Some policy environments may lead to"win-win"situations of rapid developments and fertility decline, while others may generate"lose-lose"outcomes.
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