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Why Have Children in the 21st Century? Biological Predisposition, Social Coercion, Rational Choice

Citation

Morgan, S. Philip & King, Rosalind Berkowitz (2001). Why Have Children in the 21st Century? Biological Predisposition, Social Coercion, Rational Choice. European Journal of Population, 17(1), 3-20.

Abstract

This review examines arguments and evidence pertaining to the question: why have children in settings where the net economic costs of children are clearly substantial? The review is organized around three themes: biological predispositions, environment (social coercion) and rational choice. Specifically, we explore the argument that evolution has produced sets of genes that predispose persons to childbearing by making sex and parenthood pleasurable. We review sociological arguments regarding the pronatalism/antinatalism of societal institutions. Finally, we discuss arguments that stress the rationality of childbearing decisions by appealing to biological predispositions and the economic and non-economic values of children. The authors speculate that while a modern social structure and rationale supportive of childbearing could be constructed, such changes are not inevitable and may be difficult in the face of competing interests. Moreover, future social and technological change could alter the context of childbearing substantially. This uncertainty complicates policy recommendations.

URL

http://www.jstor.org/stable/20164128

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

European Journal of Population

Author(s)

Morgan, S. Philip
King, Rosalind Berkowitz

Year Published

2001

Volume Number

17

Issue Number

1

Pages

3-20

Reference ID

1689