Monday, Nov 3
Melvin Stephens, Estimating Program Benefits
Recent research in many areas of social demography has begun to address the implications of cultural, social and economic context for individual-level preferences and behavior. We expand on this theme by arguing that multiple levels of context may simultaneously direct individual-level strategies. We focus on the relationship between women's natal kin ties and their demand for children, a substantive area in which context is thought to be particularly important. We use a combination of ethnographic and survey data to measure contextual characteristics, women's ties to their natal families, and couples' fertility preferences and behavior. Our results demonstrate that particularly supportive relationships with natal kin have more influence on fertility preferences and behavior than contact with natal kin, although both dimensions are important. The results also show that even within the same cultural context, radically different community environments can produce opposite consequences of ties to natal kin.