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Fertility and Social InteractionAn Economic Perspective$
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Hans-Peter Kohler

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199244591

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199244596.001.0001

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Fertility Decline as a Coordination Problem

Fertility Decline as a Coordination Problem

(p.111) 5 Fertility Decline as a Coordination Problem
Fertility and Social Interaction

Hans‐Peter Kohler (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter is devoted to the role of social networks for the selection of equilibria in situations in which fertility decline constitutes a coordination problem. We show that the effect of networks depends on the particular interaction among individuals and on the prevailing socioeconomic conditions: `information networks’ can only speed up a fertility transition that would also take place in the absence of social interaction, while `coordination networks’ can facilitate demographic change in societies that would otherwise be caught in a Malthusian situation. Coordination networks, however, are limited by a temporal window of opportunities. During this period, social networks and collective action can initiate a fertility transition. Afterwards, population growth increases the stability of a traditional equilibrium and prevents endogenous demographic change. The media and its interaction with social networks emerges an alternative that can overcome the social coordination problem even in large populations when coordination networks fail.

Keywords:   coordination problem, fertility decline, Malthus, multiple equilibria, population growth, social networks

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