chapter  11
31 Pages

MASS MEDIA AND MODERN CONSUMER GOODS: THEIR SUITABILITY FOR POLICY INTERVENTIONS TO DECREASE FERTILITY

The fact that fertility fell in the West after the industrial revolution and without organized programs of family planning is often cited as evidence that profound social and economic changes are both necessary and sufficient to bring birth rates down to desired levels. Actually, we do not know what degree of change and modernization is required to alter fer­ tility behavior. Recent historical studies of the demographic transition in the West find no evidence that changes in specific indicators of social change were systematically related to declines in fertility. Further, since the less developed countries today differ in significant ways from Europe before the demographic transition, the applicability of Western experi­ ence for developing countries is even more uncertain. In view of the difficulties in attaining large-scale industrialization and modernization, an important question is whether government efforts directed toward more limited and specific social and economic variables can lower fer­ tility. For example, the recent history of Kerala and Sri Lanka illustrates that declines in fertility may follow advances in education and health without significant economic progress (Nair 1974, Fernando 1973, Nortman 1974).