A Meta-Analysis of Fertility Trends by Social Status

Vegard Skirbekk, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

I gathered 879 samples on fertility by status and perform a meta-analysis to study the changes. I find that until 1750 high status into 35.8% more children compared to low status fertility. The status-fertility effect later reversed, and for the most recent period, 1990-2005, those with high status had 19.8% fewer children on average relative to those with low status. The changes are similar in Europe and North-America as well as Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin-America (although they took place at a later period for the latter regions). Fertility effects differ by type of status, where the fertility effect of high income/wealth was remained neutral throughout the entire period. Childbearing and occupation/social class was also used positively related until 1750, but has been negative on for the last century. Education (which is only found in fertility surveys and censuses from the 20th century) is consistently negatively related to fertility.

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Presented in Session 155: Social Status and Reproduction: Interrelationships between Poverty, Wealth and Fertility