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Reproductive Motivation Versus Contraceptive Technology: Is Recent American Experience an Exception?

Judith Blake and Prithwis Das Gupta
Population and Development Review
Vol. 1, No. 2 (Dec., 1975), pp. 229-249
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1972222
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1972222
Page Count: 21
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Reproductive Motivation Versus Contraceptive Technology: Is Recent American Experience an Exception?
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Abstract

Demographic thinking diverges concerning the relative importance to successful fertility restriction of reproductive incentives and birth control technology. Historical and cross-cultural experience favor the incentive approach. However, recently it has been claimed that the 1960-70 American fertility decline was due primarily to the reduction of unwanted births resulting from new techniques of birth control that lowered the motivational level required for birth prevention. According to this view the improvement in techniques has allowed Americans to realize a constant desire, since the beginning of the century, for a two-child family. This article presents evidence questioning the constant two-child norm, the claim that the reduction of unwanted births was the principal cause of the recent American fertility decline, and the notion that, with respect to at least one method--oral contraceptives--the motivational level required for successfully curtailing births has been greatly reduced.

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