Fertility, families, and households Soc 971
Fertility preferences, etc. Week 10

Discussion Questions

Bongaarts (KAP gap)
1. Bongaarts establishes the extent of unfulfilled demand for contraception. What else would policymakers need to know to act? (For example, what might be the differences between women who don’t want more children who are contraceptive users and women who don’t want more children and are not contraceptive users?)

2. How might reproductive intentions vary over time, what might cause changes, and how might changes affect met and unmet need?

3. These calculations require certain assumptions. Does Bongaarts make any assumptions that you find problematic?

4. Those who use traditional contraceptive methods (abstinence, withdrawal, etc) may be exposed to risk of conception as much as non-users. Can we consider them as contraceptive users and exclude them from KAP gap?

5. What is the difference between “limiters” and “spacers”? How can we distinguish them?

6. Does this KAP gap exist only in developing countries?

Bongaarts (Trends)
1. What other “other proximate determinants” might be at work? (For instance, women’s menstrual cycles stop when their nutrition is inadequate, as it might be in parts of the developing world such as sub-Saharan Africa.)

2. If the developing world continues to become more like the developed world, unmarried childbearing, cohabitation, and postponement of childbearing would become more common. What effects would these factors have unwanted childbearing? Would they be the same as or different from effects in the developed world?

3. The debates about population growth differ in the developed world and the developing world. Countries with below-replacement fertility have programs to increase childbearing; countries with high fertility have programs to decrease it. What might be good policy from a global perspective?

4. What other policies can enhance effectiveness of family planning programs?

5. Ross & Winfery (2002) argued that 17% of married women in developing world (122.7 million) have unmet need for contraception. Why is it same with Bongaart (1991)’s calculation after a decade?

Mason & Taj
1. These authors (p. 611) read Caldwell as meaning that “a latent demand for fertility limitation among women (but not men) is one precondition for the [demographic] transition. … If this latent demand does not exist…then the generality of [the theory of the demographic transition] is called into question.” I haven’t read the primary source Caldwell, but I read his quote as meaning simply that women do the controlling of fertility because they are the ones who birth babies. Do you think that lack of gender differences in desire for children makes the generality of the theory of the demographic transition questionable?

2. The authors suggest (p. 612) that fertility could decline if women contracept without the permission or knowledge of their husbands. Could women manage to do that?

3. This paper focuses on aggregate differences in men’s and women’s reproductive goals. Clearly, couple-level data would be preferable, but they probably do not exist. Are the aggregate differences sufficiently meaningful?

1. A relevant factor Sandberg doesn’t address is the level of maternal mortality (how frequently do women die during childbirth?). What effect, if any, might this knowledge have on women’s preferences? Are there other pieces of information available from women’s social networks that also might affect their desired family size?

2. How do you think that women who give numerical answers use social network knowledge about child mortality? (For instance, if women in a high child mortality regime say they would like four children, do they intend to have more than four on the expectation that some might die?)

3. Sandberg focuses on mothers and on individual cognitive processes…but aren’t childbearing intentions a couple-level issue as well? How might fathers contribute to the process?

4. Sandberg makes the assumption that mothers summarize information about child mortality in a simple statistical way (e.g., that they don’t differentially weight the experiences of various network partners). Is the assumption tenable?

Across readings
1. What is the role of mortality decline in the process of fertility transition?

2. Is universal family planning plausible for developing countries?