Explaining fertility transitions
- Cite this article as:
- Mason, K.O. Demography (1997) 34: 443. doi:10.2307/3038299
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In this essay. I suggest that the crisis in our understanding of fertility transitions is more apparent than real. Although most existing theories of fertility transition have been partially or wholly discredited, this reflects a tendency to assume that all fertility transitions share one or two causes, to ignore mortality decline as a precondition for fertility decline, to assume that pretransitional fertility is wholly governed by social constraints rather than by individual decision-making. and to test ideas on a decadal time scale. I end the essay by suggesting a perceptual. interactive approach to explaining fertility transitions that is closely allied to existing theories but focuses on conditions that lead couples to switch from postnatal to prenatal controls on family size.