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Institutional Determinants of Fertility Change

Geoffrey McNicoll
Population and Development Review
Vol. 6, No. 3 (Sep., 1980), pp. 441-462
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1972410
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1972410
Page Count: 22
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Institutional Determinants of Fertility Change
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Abstract

Explanations for fertility change in terms of shifts in institutional settings, often highly plausible, are in most cases anecdotal, after-the-fact accounts. To give status as theory to such accounts requires tracing out conceptually and empirically how the setting impinges on behavior. This impact may come not only from changes in perceived costs of particular behaviors, amenable to analysis using conventional consumer choice assumptions, but also (and perhaps more consequentially) from changes in the way people shape their perceived environment into "domains of consistency"--areas of decision making within which behavior is adaptive but between which trade-offs among alternatives are not routinely made. A fertility theory drawing on this concept calls for delineating such domains for fertility, identification of the institutional factors defining them, and tracing out the forces governing institutional change, both those located in the larger polity and those deriving from the shifting nature of transactions among individuals in the society.

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