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The Concept and Measurement of Child Dependency: An Approach to Family Formation Analysis
Vol. 27, No. 1 (Mar., 1973), pp. 69-84
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2173453
Page Count: 16
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Two distinctions appear crucial in the study of human fertility: (1) aggregate versus individual-level analysis; and (2) true explanations versus `demographic explanations', using Stinchcombe's terminology. Social demographers analysing fertility have been accustomed to using fertility measurements derived from aggregative population analyses, and have largely terminated their analytic efforts at the level of a `demographic explanation'. The failure to arrive at a social analysis of the process of fertility decision-making may in part to be due to this measurement heritage, which may be inappropriate for individual-level analyses. As a first step in the direction of creating measurement suitable for such analyses, fertility decision-making is labelled as family formation decision-making, and this is linked to the concept of child dependency. Measures of child-years-of-dependency (CYD) are proposed for use in family formation analysis. These integrate current quantity and tempo measures, and have greater potential for use at the level of the family. They require no additional data beyond fertility histories, are flexible in terms of non-modal family situations (e.g. divorce, infant or child mortality) and may be indicators of criteria used by couples in planning their fertility. Refinements of the basic CYD measures are explored. These include analyses of average versus marginal costs of child-rearing, age gradients of costs and social class differentials in costs. All of these are intended to make CYD measures more useful in individual cost-benefit analyses of child-bearing and child-rearing.
Population Studies © 1973 Population Investigation Committee