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Vlassoff's comment

[Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
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I am very glad to learn that Michael Vlassoff of the UNFPA has joined
these debates. I do agree with him that women's education is not
critical to population control, since rationality is not a function of
literacy [this contradicts the Easterlin view substantially], but on the
other hand, my study on the demand for children as part of my Ph.D. has
not been very favorable to the work of the Vlassoffs which was carried
out in India with considerable shortcomings, if I may say. Indeed, there
is a very strong economic reason for having children, and the
macroeconomy affects the demand for children very profoundly. The
microeconomic model as well as the empirical study which I carry out
demonstrate this clearly. The reason why the earlier studies did not
give unequivocal support to this was due to weak design. Even my study
can be much improved since expectations are critical and we need to
improve our methods of measuring expectations. I recommend a careful
panel for better analysis. However, the dataset used by me was quite
detailed and helped in arriving at robust conclusions. This "proof" is
sufficient to overturn most earlier studies which were based on
relatively greater number of weaknesses and not on a specialized and
vast micro-level data set.

I hope to publish my work in the coming months (it was presented at the
Population Association of America on March 25 at N.York), but if anyone
is interested, I can forward a draft copy of my disseratation to them. I
have been intending to put forth the policy implications of my study to
these debates in due course, as soon as the few corrections I need to
make are incorporated.

I do support the provision of good family planning facilities, though,
since demand for lesser children must be strongly supported.

> From: "Michael Vlassoff" <michael.vlassoff@unfpa.org.in>
> To: debate@indiapolicy.org
> Subject: Education and population: spurious relationship
> I'm glad that the fact that this relationship may indeed be spurious -- or
> at least partly spurious -- has received attention in the debate. I have
> actually studied this relationship quite widely, using data sets from over
> 40 World Fertility Surveys (done in the 1970s and 1980s). The fact is that
> you find every kind of relation: positive, negative, U-shaped and
> completely flat (no relationship). 
> Hence, the mantra that the population problem will be solved by educating
> women (heard much in World Bank policy circles inter alia) is, simply, not
> true. Educating women won't hurt of course, and is commendable as a policy
> in its own right, but it certainly isn't the most cost-effective way of
> trying to lower fertility. Actually supplying reproductive-health
> information and quality services to women in India would, in my opinion,
> be the most cost-effective approach. 
> If you want another spurious relationship, here's one: poor people in
> India (and elsewhere) have children because of the economic benefits
> they get from them (more children, more helping hands). The literature
> (and my own research in India) doesn't bear this out, but it is still
> widely believed -- sadly by many policy makers in influential positions.

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