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On the Social Control of Human Reproduction

Ron Lesthaeghe
Population and Development Review
Vol. 6, No. 4 (Dec., 1980), pp. 527-548
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1972925
Stable URL:
Page Count: 22
Subjects: Population Studies
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On the Social Control of Human Reproduction
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Most societies control fertility and population growth to some degree through basic institutional arrangements that support the functioning of the social system as a whole. This article tries to specify these arrangements, to establish their raison d'etre, and to document the ways in which the nature of the fertility transition is contingent upon changes in the normative code and the system of social control. Drawing on the record for historical Western Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, it considers first the linkages between appropriation of resources, patterns of social control, risk-sharing devolution, and demographic checks in pretransitional settings and then proceeds to examine these variables in the context of demographic transition.