On the Relationship between Development and Fertility: The Case of the United States

Igor Ryabov


The present article addresses the question of whether there is a link between the spatial patterns of human development and period fertility in the United States at the county level. Using cross-sectional analyses of the relationship between Total Fertility Rate (TFR) and an array of human development indicators (pertaining to three components of the Human Development Index (HDI) – wealth, health, and education), this study sheds light on the relationship between fertility and human development. The analyses were conducted separately for urban, suburban and rural counties. According to the multivariate results, a negative association between selected human development indicators and TFR exists in suburban and rural counties, as well as in the United States as a whole. However, this is not the case for urban counties, where the results were inconclusive. Some indicators (e.g., median income per capita) were found to be positively, and some (e.g., the share of adults with at least bachelor’s degree) negatively, associated with TFR in urban counties. All in all, our results provide evidence of a negative relationship between human development indicators and period fertility in the United States at the county level, a finding which is consistent with the basic tenets of classic demographic transition theory.


Period fertility; Development; Fertility-development relationship; United States; Second demographic transition

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DOI (PDF): http://dx.doi.org/10.12765/CPoS-2015-13en

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