International Fertility Change: New Data and Insights from the Developmental Idealism Framework

Arland Thornton, University of Michigan
Georgina Binstock, Centro de Estudios de Población
Mohammad J. Abbasi-Shavazi , University of Tehran
Dirgha J. Ghimire, University of Michigan

Many structural and ideational explanations have been offered for family and fertility changes. In this paper we focus on developmental idealism—an important set of beliefs endorsing development, family change, and the causal connections between development and family behavior. Developmental idealism is argued to be a force affecting the family-related behavior of ordinary people. We present new survey data from Argentina, China, Egypt, Iran, Nepal, and the United States about the extent to which developmental idealism is believed in everyday life. We ask if individuals believe that fertility and development are correlated, that development changes fertility, and that fertility declines increase standard of living. Finally, we ask whether individuals prefer very low fertility. The data show a widespread linkage in people’s minds between fertility and development, as large fractions believe that fertility and development are correlated and that fertility and development mutually affect each other.

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Presented in Session 133: Globalization and Family Changes