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Low Fertility and the State: The Efficacy of Policy

Peter McDonald
Population and Development Review
Vol. 32, No. 3 (Sep., 2006), pp. 485-510
Published by: Population Council
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20058901
Page Count: 26
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Low Fertility and the State: The Efficacy of Policy
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Abstract

Low fertility in advanced societies today has been an unintended outcome of two major waves of social and economic change, social liberalism and new capitalism. Both these waves have enhanced individual aspirations in relation to the quality of personal and economic lives. In differing cultural and welfare environments, however, both have also brought considerable pressure to bear upon the capacity to form and maintain families. The personal desire for intimacy and individuation through family relationships remains strong. In their support or promotion of social liberalism and economic deregulation, often through legislation, states have been principal players in the higher risks now associated with family life. Individual preferences are formed in the shadow of the social and economic institutions of the society. The shape of these institutions is within the realm of political choice. Governments of countries experiencing very low fertility can and should act to support family life and the bearing and rasing of children.

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