¬¬¬Caldwell's emotional nucleation hypothesis is not simply an understudied prediction it is an important alternative to other theories of fertility decline because it offers a clear explanation of why many couples might choose to have small numbers of children once any childbearing at all is no longer economically rational. After years of design and testing to construct setting specific measures of husband-wife emotional bond appropriate for general population research, followed by integration of those measures in a long term panel study, we have the empirical tools to provide a test of this hypothesis. This paper presents that test. We use long term, multilevel community and family panel data to demonstrate that the variance in levels of husband-wife emotional bond are significantly associated with their subsequent behavior to limit childbearing independent of other key factors. The paper discusses the wide ranging implications of this intriguing new result.
Country of focus: Nepal.