Socioeconomic Progress and Fertility Transition in the Developing World: Evidence from the Demographic and Health Surveys

Amanda Kreider, Pennsylvania State University
David Shapiro, Pennsylvania State University
Malika Sinha, Pennsylvania State University
Catherine Varner, Pennsylvania State University

This paper examines fertility decline in the developing world, with emphasis on ascertaining the impact of socioeconomic change. We use data from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHSs) to assess the current situation of fertility transition and examine linkages between fertility decline and socioeconomic development. To what extent do differences in the pace of development account for differences in fertility transition and the emergence of stalling? We use three indicators of socioeconomic development: changes in women’s education, changes in infant/child mortality and growth in GDP per capita. We also examine the influence of changes in modern contraception on fertility decline. These multivariate analyses of fertility decline between the two most recent surveys use data from the 47 nations that have had multiple DHSs. Our empirical work analyzes data at three different levels, and we find that changes in women’s schooling, mortality and contraceptive practice are strongly related to changes in fertility.

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Presented in Session 165: Explaining Fertility Patterns in International Contexts