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Rethinking Historical Reproductive Change: Insights from Longitudinal Data for a Spanish Town

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A set of linked reproductive histories taken from the Spanish town of Aranjuez between 1871 and 1950 is used to address key issues regarding reproductive change during the demographic transition. These include the role of child survival as a stimulus for reproductive change, the use of stopping and/or spacing strategies to achieve reproductive goals, and the timing of change. Straightforward demographic measures are used and robust results are achieved. Initial strategies of fertility limitation are shown to exist but are inefficient, are mostly visible during the latter part of the reproductive period, are designed mostly to protect families from the effects of increases in child survival, and are based almost entirely on stopping behavior. As mortality decline accelerates, strategies become much more efficient, are visible at the outset of married life, include spacing behavior, and eventually lead to important declines in completed family size. The results of this study have implications for our understanding of the demographic transition both in historical Europe and in other regions of the world.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept. Sociologia II, Facultad de CC.PP.y Sociologia, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 28223 Madrid, Spain

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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