What determines fertility?

Here are some thoughts:

So there would seem to be two models for achieving higher fertility:
the neosocialist Scandinavian system and the laissez-faire American
one. Aassve put it to me this way: “You might say that in order to
promote fertility, your society needs to be generous or flexible. The
U.S. isn’t very generous, but it is flexible. Italy is not generous in
terms of social services and it’s not flexible. There is also a social
stigma in countries like Italy, where it is seen as less socially
accepted for women with children to work. In the U.S., that is very

By this logic, the worst sort of system is one that
partly buys into the modern world – expanding educational and
employment opportunities for women – but keeps its traditional
mind-set. This would seem to define the demographic crisis that Italy,
Spain and Greece find themselves in – and, perhaps, Japan, South Korea,
Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of the world. Indeed, demographers
have been surprised to find rapid fertility changes in the third world,
as more and more women work and modern birth-control methods become
standard options. “The earlier distinct fertility regimes, ‘developed’
and ‘developing,’ are increasingly disappearing in global comparisons
of fertility levels,” according to Edward Jow-Ching Tu…the birthrate in 25 developing countries – including Cuba, Costa Rica,
Iran, Sri Lanka and China – now stands at or below the replacement


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