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Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 365–396 | Cite as

Demographic pressure, economic development, and social engineering: An assessment of fertility declines in the second half of the twentieth century

  • Patrick Heuveline
Article

Abstract

Concerns over the prospects of explosive demographic growth led to concerted efforts to engineer fertility reductions in the developing world, while skeptics argued that economic development was the best way to hasten fertility decline. Now that fertility declines have occurred in many countries can either side claim victory? Or was demographic pressure simply self-regulated by links between mortality and fertility changes? Using country-level data and a methodology inspired by a series of seminal articles by Preston, I assess the impact of economic change on both fertility and mortality and the independent effect of mortality on fertility between the 1960s and the 1990s. Aggregating country-level estimates into six regional population projections from 1950 to 2000, I translate these impacts on demographic variables into population size impacts. Although economic development accounted poorly for either mortality or fertility changes, the prevailing population growth was not that different from the growth predicted had economic development alone influenced demographic trends. The main reason appears to be an association between mortality and fertility levels that offset the initial effects of mortality declines outpacing economic growth. Together, the effect of economic change on both mortality and fertility declines and the effect of mortality on fertility predicted reasonably well actual population size in year 2000, suggesting only a modest influence of any additional factor.

Economic development Family planning programs Fertility decline Mortality decline Population growth 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Heuveline
    • 1
  1. 1.Population Research CenterNORC & the University of ChicagoUSA

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