Fertility and Social Interaction: An Economic Perspective

Hardcover | December 15, 2001

byHans-Peter Kohler

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Considerable controversy exists among demographers, economists, and sociologists over the causes of fertility change in developing and developed countries. The neoclassical economic approach to fertility is embraced by its supporters because it facilitates the application of sophisticatedconsumer and household production theory to one of the most private and intimate questions: a couple's reproductive behavior. Despite the theoretical appeal of the economic approach, it has been eschewed by many critics because of its lack of social and institutional context, its neglect of culturalfactors, and its requirement of 'rationality'. The integration of social interaction with economic fertility models in this book emerges as a powerful tool to overcome many of these criticisms. First, the analysis provides a formal integration of economic, sociological, and other approaches tofertility, and shows that there is a useful and promising agenda at the intersection of these schools. The second and more important goal is to sharpen the analytic lens with which theorists from different schools investigate fertility. For economists the work shows the advantages of moving beyondindividual decision-making and embedding fertility decisions in a 'local environment' with interpersonal information flows, 'atmospheric' or social externalities, norms, and customs. For sociologists the work shows that theorizing about interactions within social networks can be more sophisticated.The implications of social networks depend substantially on the specific contexts and stages of the demographic transition, and these differences can be used to empirically distinguish between social learning and social influence. Thirdly, the findings have important implications for populationpolicy. The analyses in this book indicate when family planning is likely to diffuse and lead to rapid adoption of birth control, and they derive conditions where Pareto-improving policy measures are likely to exist.

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Considerable controversy exists among demographers, economists, and sociologists over the causes of fertility change in developing and developed countries. The neoclassical economic approach to fertility is embraced by its supporters because it facilitates the application of sophisticatedconsumer and household production theory to one ...

Hans-Peter Kohler received his M.A. in Demography (1994) and Ph.D. in Economics (1997) from the University of California at Berkeley. He is currently head of the research group on Social Dynamics and Fertility at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock and part-time professor at the University of Southern Denmark ...

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Paperback|Nov 20 2012

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:230 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.67 inPublished:December 15, 2001Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199244596

ISBN - 13:9780199244591

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Table of Contents

1. Fertility Behaviour and Demographic Change: Economic and Other Perspectives2. Learning in Social Networks and Contraceptive Change3. The Density of Social Networks and Fertility Decisions: Evidence from S. Nyanza District, Kenya4. From Individual Behaviour to Aggregate Fertility Dynamics5. Fertility Decline as a Coordination Problem6. Social Interactions and Fluctuations in Birth Rates7. Summary and Conclusions