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Period Paramount? A Critique of the Cohort Approach to Fertility

Maire Ni Bhrolchain
Population and Development Review
Vol. 18, No. 4 (Dec., 1992), pp. 599-629
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1973757
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1973757
Page Count: 31
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Period Paramount? A Critique of the Cohort Approach to Fertility
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Abstract

The author examines the case for the cohort approach to fertility. In view of the virtually unanimous verdict of statistical investigations that period is far more important than cohort in accounting for fertility variation through time, the demographic case for the cohort approach needs to be reconsidered. The article looks to the historical roots of conventional thinking on the subject and identifies the elements of the demographic case for the cohort approach. These are examined individually and found either not to be valid arguments or not to require a cohort perspective. Some of the problems associated with the period fertility approach arise from mistaken measurement of period phenomena and the misconceived evaluation of period parameters relative to their cohort counterparts. An alternative approach to measuring period fertility phenomena is considered. The cohort may have a role as a convenient measurement framework, but on demographic and statistical grounds the period perspective is considered superior for the description and analysis of fertility.

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