The Impact of Socio-economic Factors on Fertility Behaviour: A Cross-country Analysis

Publication Year : 1996

International comparisons of fertility behaviour are based on two crucial assumptions. First, it is assumed that the response of fertility rates to socio-economic factors is similar across different age-cohorts of female population in the reproductive age-group. Second, it is assumed that country-specific effects do not influence the parameter estimates of the fertility model. Recent availability of cross-country data for a number of years allows us to pool data for more than 100 countries for the period 1955–1985 and estimate the fertility model. The results show that the impact of socio-economic factors differs across different age-cohorts; particularly, the negative impact of improvements in female status on the fertility rates is higher among the younger age-cohorts. Similarly, our results show that cross-country differences affect fertility rates significantly. However, the differences tend to diminish as countries become more developed. These results indicate that not only cross-country differences but also the changes in age-composition of female population should be taken into account in formulating the policies to control fertility and population growth. Furthermore, improvements in female literacy turn out to be the most effective tool to control population growth.