A Classic Model in a Low Fertility Context: The Proximate Determinants of Fertility in South Korea and the United States

Christine E. Guarneri, Texas A&M University

John Bongaarts’ proximate determinants model of fertility has accounted for over 90 percent of variation in the total fertility rate (TFR) of primarily developing nations and historical populations. Recently, dramatically low fertility rates across the globe have raised questions regarding whether this model could be applied to exclusively below-replacement nations. This study follows Knodel, Chamratrithirong, and Debavalya's 1987 analysis of fertility decline in Thailand by conducting in-depth case studies of the proximate determinants in two low fertility countries over time: South Korea, where fertility is well below the level of replacement, and the United States, where fertility has hovered around replacement level for many years. The results of these case studies are used to determine whether a respecification of the proximate determinants model is in order, and to theorize how it might be modified to explain a higher proportion of variation in the TFR of strictly below-replacement fertility nations.

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Presented in Poster Session 3