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Differences between Women's and Men's Reproductive Goals in Developing Countries

Karen Oppenheim Mason and Anju Malhotra Taj
Population and Development Review
Vol. 13, No. 4 (Dec., 1987), pp. 611-638
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1973025
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1973025
Page Count: 28
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Differences between Women's and Men's Reproductive Goals in Developing Countries
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Abstract

A review of fertility determination theories indicates there are plausible reasons for expecting similar fertility desires among women and men, greater desires among women, and greater desires among men in pretransition settings. Most theories agree, however, that social, economic, or demographic modernization should reduce any pre-existing differences. Statistics from more than three dozen published studies show, on average, only small differences between women's and men's family size desires, with women wanting more children than men in some studies and wanting fewer in others. Thus, claims that women consistently want fewer or more children than men appear to be incorrect. In high-fertility settings, however, there is some tendency for women to express the desire to cease childbearing more frequently than men do. Differences in the preference for sons are common (men typically prefer sons more strongly than do women) and may help to explain differences between the sexes in the desire for additional children.

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