A Longitudinal Analysis of Aggregate Fertility Decline as a Product of Increasing Contraceptive Prevalence
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The human population has experienced tremendous growth over the past 300 hundred years. It took from the start of human history up to the 1800 before the world reached 1 billion in population; in but 210 years another six billion people were added to the population. This exponential growth has been well documented since the time of Thomas Malthus at the turn of the 19^(th) century and continuing with his modern day counterparts in the 1960’s, particularly Paul Ehrlich. Interestingly, a simultaneous population trend emerged in the 1960’s, namely, fertility decline. However, many academics, as well as the public in general, have been largely fixated on high fertility and overpopulation while in reality fertility continues to plummet in most regions of the world. This dissertation addresses the fertility decline reported in 178 countries between 1960 and 2011. I draw on data from the World Bank Data Bank; my research focuses on the role of contraceptive prevalence in facilitating the vast fertility decline observed over this time period. I estimate multilevel quadratic growth curve models to analyze the effect of contraceptive prevalence on total fertility rates among countries. My results document the substantial fertility decline over this time period and indicate that contraceptive prevalence is a significant predictor of fertility decline even after controlling for known correlates of fertility decline such as development, urbanization, economic growth, and declining mortality. This dissertation also includes a discussion of missing observations and the unique complications that missing observations present in a longitudinal framework. Furthermore, I also discuss the logic of multilevel modeling and how multilevel models may be employed in longitudinal research. Finally, I include a discussion of theoretical implications stemming from this dissertation. The focus of these implications is centered on the need for a paradigmatic shift in how we approach the study of fertility in favor of more effective fertility paradigms such as the “Low Fertility Trap Hypothesis.” I argue that a paradigm shift in research orientation is essential as a growing number of countries face the stark reality of population aging, which has occurred as a result of declining and sustained low fertility.
Field, Layton Marshall (2014). A Longitudinal Analysis of Aggregate Fertility Decline as a Product of Increasing Contraceptive Prevalence. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from