Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Economics influence fertility rates more than other factors

Date:
April 30, 2013
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
Based on a recent study by an anthropologist, economic changes have the greatest impact on reducing family size, and thus slowing population growth, compared to other factors. Understanding the causes of declining birth rates may lead to improved policies designed to influence fertility and result in reduced competition for food, water, land and wealth.

The world population could top 8 billion in the year 2023 if current growth rates remain constant, according to United Nations figures. However, if global fertility rates slow more quickly than expected, there could be up to half a billion fewer mouths to feed on Earth in 2023. Based on a recent study by a University of Missouri anthropologist, economic changes have the greatest impact on reducing family size, and thus slowing population growth, compared to other factors. Understanding the causes of declining birth rates may lead to improved policies designed to influence fertility and result in reduced competition for food, water, land and wealth.

"Improvements in economic development, such as higher educational attainment, increasing employment in the formal labor market, and the shift away from agriculture, seem to have a doubly-powerful effect because they not only raise individuals' standards of living, but also correlate to declining fertility rates, according to the results of our study," said Mary Shenk, assistant professor of anthropology in MU's College of Arts and Science. "Another important finding of our study was that intervention programs that made changes that really affected individuals achieved the best results. For example, although advertising campaigns encouraging lower fertility may reach a wider audience for less money, face-to-face intervention campaigns providing health services or access to contraception provide better results and are thus a better use of resources."

In their research, Shenk and her colleagues used data collected since 1966 from approximately 250,000 people in rural Bangladesh, along with detailed interviews of nearly 800 women from the region. Sixty-four factors related to family size were considered and organized according to three possible explanations for declines in fertility rates:

  • Risk and mortality -- Parents have fewer children when they have more hope that children will survive into adulthood, according to this explanation.
  • Economic and investment -- This explanation suggests that rising costs of children and higher payoffs to investing in self and children reduce fertility with the shift to a market economy.
  • Cultural transmission -- This explanation holds that social perceptions of the value of children, ideal family size and acceptance of contraception influence fertility rates.

Shenk's team used specially designed data collection and statistical methods to discern that "economic and investment" factors most clearly correlated to lower fertility. However, Shenk noted that the three possible explanations were interwoven. Although economic factors were significantly more influential, other phenomena such as mortality rates and health interventions also affect fertility decline in Bangladesh.

"Few studies have compared those three possible explanations for fertility declines to determine which had the strongest effect," said Shenk. "Population growth rates have fallen globally, starting in 18th century Western Europe, but the exact cause was intensely debated because there are so many different explanations in the literature. Our study created a framework by which different explanations could be explicitly compared. Population data from any region could be analyzed using these methods to help researchers, government officials, health workers and others understand the key drivers of demographic change in that region."

This research was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Missouri-Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Economics influence fertility rates more than other factors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130430161940.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2013, April 30). Economics influence fertility rates more than other factors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130430161940.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Economics influence fertility rates more than other factors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130430161940.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Predicting Heart Transplant Rejection With a Blood Test

Predicting Heart Transplant Rejection With a Blood Test

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Now a new approach to rejection of donor organs could change the way doctors predict transplant rejection…without expensive, invasive procedures. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Better Braces That Vibrate

Better Braces That Vibrate

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) The length of time you have to keep your braces on could be cut in half thanks to a new device that speeds up the process. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A new app that can track your heart rate 24/7 is available for download in your app store and its convenience could save your life. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stroke in Young Adults

Stroke in Young Adults

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A stroke can happen at any time and affect anyone regardless of age. This mother chose to give her son independence and continue to live a normal life after he had a stroke at 18 years old. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins