Sustaining a Regime of Low Fertility
Keywords:Low fertility, social networks, reciprocal ties, communication
AbstractIn several developing countries, notably Bangladesh, fertility rates fell dramatically in the later part of the twentieth century and have sustained at low levels. Traditional socioeconomic models do not fully explain the profile of fertility fall especially for rural areas where well-being has not sufficiently improved. This paper offers a supplementary explanation that mass media facilitated the diffusion of contraceptive knowledge, leading to an ideological shift to value small families, and social networks especially reciprocal encouragement about contraception practice among network members has helped to sustain this shift. To investigate the role of encouragement of immediate network members in their family planning behavior, data was gathered using an interview-based survey of 694 women of fertile ages in seven rural Bangladeshi villages. Findings give support to the importance of social networks in maintaining achieved low fertility levels. When there is strong reciprocal encouragement of network members about practicing contraception then using contraception is more likely. This we propose may offer an explanation to why a low fertility regime has endured in Bangladesh. From this study policy recommendations are made to sustain low fertility.
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