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The Conflict between Aspirations and Resources

Richard A. Easterlin
Population and Development Review
Vol. 2, No. 3/4 (Sep. - Dec., 1976), pp. 417-425
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1971619
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1971619
Page Count: 9
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The Conflict between Aspirations and Resources
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Abstract

Three examples suggest the potential for wide application of the idea that behavior is influenced by the interplay between aspirations and resources. In the United States since 1940, measures of the relative affluence of young adults, derived from unemployment and income data, exhibit a close fit with the total fertility rate adjusted for lead-lag relationships. The concept of relative affluence also provides an explanation for the finding of little or no relationship between perceived welfare and increases in real income as measured by gross national product. Finally, growing resort to family limitation in rural nineteenth century America may have partly reflected the increasing difficulty farmers had in realizing their aspirations for their children's material welfare.

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