First Advisor

Maria Wilson-Figueroa

Term of Graduation

Winter 1997

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Fertility, Human -- Bangladesh, Fertility, Human -- Indonesia



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 177 pages)


Many Asian countries have recently undergone dramatic fertility rate reductions, in what has been labeled the "Asian Fertility Revolution." The purpose of this study was to discover what factors led to declining total fertility rates from 1970 to 1996 in Bangladesh and Indonesia, two Asian countries with relatively low total development levels. Because of these low levels, it was hypothesized that factors outside of economic development have contributed to these countries' successes with fertility reduction. This is especially true for Bangladesh, which remains an undeveloped country; Indonesia is partially industrialized, and has made economic gains during this 26-year period. Theoretical demographic literature was reviewed to determine what the main determinants of fertility are. Subsequently, the roles these influences have played in Bangladesh and Indonesia were investigated. A meta-analysis methodology was employed, utilizing conclusions from past and recent demographic research literature, and from national data collection. In these less-developed countries, increases in access to contraception and in the prevalence of contraceptive use were primary contributors to fertility declines. Government-sponsored family planning programs were essential to these changes. Even though the two countries' contraceptive prevalence rates are currently very similar, Indonesia's lower total fertility rate may be explained by the high prevalence of abortion there. Additionally, in Indonesia, which is modernizing much more rapidly than Bangladesh, rising incomes and a higher percentage of women in secondary school and in the industrial and manufacturing sectors of the labor force have also aided contraceptive use and the fertility decline. A recommendation from the analysis is that other less-developed countries should follow these two countries' examples. They clearly show that behavioral changes resulting in fertility decline can occur both prior to and in conjunction with the structural changes normally associated with economic development. Especially important to bringing about these behavioral changes are family planning strategies, characterized by diffusion of information programs and increased access to contraception, which result in raising contraceptive prevalence rates. Reducing fertility through family planning programs may also complement or facilitate the process of economic development, as has occurred in Indonesia, just as high fertility has been said to impede that process.


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