Testing the Link between Fertility Declines and Women’s Empowerment in Developing Countries

Susan M. Lee-Rife, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Anju Malhotra, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
Sophie Namy, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

Malhotra and colleagues (2009) contend that under the right contextual conditions, women’s access to the means of fertility control and related fertility declines may benefit them significantly, in terms of their welfare, empowerment, and fundamental transformations in gender relations. This study offers an important first empirical examination of this hypothesis using macro-level quantitative and contextual data from 12 developing countries, using data from the economic, socio-cultural, legal, and political spheres to identify broad trends and other clues about their relationships with fertility decline. Examining these dynamics in developing countries will add insight to the challenges facing increasing numbers of developing country women today, including shifting age structures, higher aspirations, increasing labor force participation, and rapid changes in the global economy. Moreover, it will help to identify policy and program interventions to maximize the benefits of fertility decline for women and identify potential solutions to the challenges women face.

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Presented in Session 61: Gender, Development and Demographic Processes