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"Dr. Sanjeev Sabhlok" wrote:

Charu wrote:

 > >I would add that in many situations, a contributing factor to
 > >"pure rabbit-like behavior" is the lack of knowledge and lack of
 > >availability of contraceptives. In such circumstances the means to  > 
 >make a
 > >choice does not exist [in a manner analogous to countries where
 > >contraceptives are banned by law] "pure rabbit-like behavior" is  > >the 
 > >possible behavior.
 > "Dr. Sanjeev Sabhlok" wrote:

 > Reply: This is an extract from my dissertation:
 > "... arguments and evidence which show the existence of  > multifarious
 > alternative strategies for birth-control in pre-transition  > societies, 
 > then begin to see why there was an immediate use of a combination  > of 
 > methods to control fertility once child mortality started  > declining, 
 > first in the West and later, in the developing societies.  > 
 > (1967), Leibenstein (1980), and Demeny (1993) have shown that  > social
 > methods of control existed, as a partial substitute for private  > 
methods of
 > birth control, from a very long time. Abernethy (1993) lists about  > 30 
 > pre-modern socially-sanctioned methods of limiting fertility. These
 > included sexual abstinence supported by superstition and taboo,  > legal 
 > cultural restrictions on marriage,  polygyny, prostitution,  > 
 > ultimogeniture, infibulation in the female or subincision in the  > male,
 > abortion by  primitive methods, prolonged lactation, infanticide,   > and 
 > depersonalization or killing of widows."

Point conceded that alternatives exist- such as abstinence.

I question the desirability of some choices- "..infanticide,  and the
depersonalization or killing of widows." and the effectiveness
and practicality of others- "..superstition and taboo, legal and
cultural restrictions on marriage,  polygyny, prostitution.."

So I continue to maintain:

 >Public [government] action in the form of education and
 >facilitating availability of contraceptives is, imo, appropriate and  >in
 >keeping with 'good governance'.

..so that the public continues to have viable choices and the
knowledge to make informed decision about them.

 > also:
 > "In addition, we have only to look at what happens in the real and
 > deliberate absence of fertility control.  Take the case of the  > 
 > The Hutterites are a small religious community in USA  who view  > 
 > regulation as sinful and high fertility as a blessing. Their TFRs  > 
 > 10 children per woman.  In the absence of evidence showing that  > 
 > women and children were particularly blessed with super-normal  > health 
 > energy, it must then hold that pre-transition societies practiced  > 
 > forms of social control to achieve TFRs between 6 and 8 for  > thousands 
 > years, a level which merely helped reproduce the existing  > population,
 > anyway."

An obvious explanation seems to be the existence of healthcare facilities 
and technologies, hitherto un-available to the general population that 
facilitates the health of the women of reproductive age and the availability 
of food that ensures greater rates of fertility and child and mother 

Another possibility to consider is extension of reproductive years-
girls reach fertility faster when they have access to diets with enough fat 
necessary to sustain a pregnancy, likewise better health care in later years 
extends fertility well into a woman's 40's and sometimes 50's.

 > Lant Pritchett ("Desired Fertility and the Impact of Population  > 
 > Population and Development Review 20, No.1 (March 1994)) has also  > 
 > that concepts such as 'unmet need' are unsustainable. I can't type  > out 
 > relevant points here, but I tend to agree with him to a very large  > 
 > This paper disputes the concept of unmet need and confirms that it  > is 
 > demand for children that determines total fertility. Pritchett  > works 
in the
 > World Bank and you can get his paper by writing to him.

I agree that "demand for children" is one determinant.
I would disagree that is the only and dominant one.

 > In "Do Family Planning Programs Decrease Fertility?" Shea O.  > Rutstein,
 > Macro International, Inc. (1995) tries to show that family planning
 > programmes influence the demand for children, apart from being mere  > 
 > suppliers of contraception. I believe he reaches this conclusion
 > erroneously as he does not incorporate the effect of changing  > economic
 > environment on the expectation of returns from children (which my  > 
 > does), but he does show that women's education per say has **no**  > 
effect on
 > the demand for children, a conclusion which I also arrive at.

I would pose the possibility that it is not education by itself, but
the power of choice excercised by women in the context of
reproductive decisions. To follow up on the Huttite example, similar
mormon faction in Utah in the US with very high reproductive rates
are also characterised by subservience and powerlessness of the women
in the community.

 > Hope that clarifies my stand somewhat. SS

Are you advocating that government completely withdraw from
any issues of population and reproductive policies and leave these
to 'the market'?

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This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
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This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/