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Yale University Press
The Global Spread of Fertility Decline: Population, Fear, and Uncertainty

The Global Spread of Fertility Decline: Population, Fear, and Uncertainty

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The world's population has grown by five billion people over the past century, an astounding 300 percent increase. Yet it is actually the decline in family size and population growth that is the issue attracting greatest concern in many countries. This eye-opening book looks at demographic trends in Europe, North America, and Asia—areas that now have low fertility rates—and argues that there is an essential yet often neglected political dimension to a full assessment of these trends. Political decisions that promote or discourage marriage and childbearing, facilitate or discourage contraception and abortion, and stimulate or restrain immigration all have played significant roles in recent trends.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300139068
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 06/18/2013
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 344
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Jay Winter is the Charles J. Stille Professor of History at Yale University. Michael Teitelbaum is Wertheim Fellow at the Labor and Worklife Program of Harvard Law School and a Senior Advisor at the Alfred P Sloan Foundation in New York. Together and separately they have written numerous scholarly works on history, politics, and sociology.

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The Global Spread of Fertility Decline

Population, Fear, and Uncertainty



Copyright © 2013 Yale University
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-300-13906-8



Globalization and Demography

Over the past decades, there has been an ocean of ink spilled about the process that has come to be known as "globalization." While the term itself rose to high public and academic visibility during this period, some have argued that the process that it denotes goes back centuries, even millennia.

Globalization has become a highly contentious subject, with the word itself carrying diverse meanings that are deployed as cudgels by proponents and opponents alike. It is now common to see one or another position characterized as "pro-globalization" or "anti-globalization," and in some cases activists describe themselves as such.

But what does it actually mean? While the term is sometimes used very broadly to connote simultaneous integration of the world's peoples and systems along dimensions of economics, politics, technologies, and cultures, it is more often discussed in more narrowly economic terms. In the 2004 book In Defense of Globalization, a title indicative of the growing attacks then underway, trade theorist Jagdish Bhagwati concentrates upon the relatively recent integration of national economies into a nearly global international economy, marked by free trade, free flows of capital, expanded foreign direct investment, increasing international migration, and the dissemination of technologies. These, he argues, have led to increasing prosperity and well-being. We share many of these views but aim in this book to add a demographic dimension to them. Declining fertility and rising international migration are both features of globalization to which we need to attend. To understand contemporary fertility and migration, we need to focus on significant political as well as economic phenomena.

This book is intended to help put the politics back into our understanding of the shape, timing, and ramifications of globalization in the particular setting of fertility decline and international migration. Doing so helps us distinguish between recent history and earlier phases of globalization, marked by very different political and demographic regimes.

By politics we mean that network of power relationships extending from the family to the neighborhood to the village or city to the region and to the nation/state beyond it. It is in these networks of unequal actors that the linkages among economic forces, social structures, and cultural practices are negotiated. Politics certainly means governmental action and policy, but the outcomes of such initiatives always entails interpretation, implementation, and deflection. Intentions and outcomes are never perfectly aligned, especially when considering delicate and complex questions associated with fertility decisions. Though it is true that state actors now have unparalleled tools of communication and intelligence gathering, we should not assume that they and they alone dictate events, however much they would like to do so. Resistance, misinterpretation, and inertia on the part of individuals, families, clans, religions, bureaucracies, and others have their roles to play in population history, as in other domains. The key point is that politics matters in this field as in all others; in a nutshell, we present an alternative to the view that in any straightforward way economic change "produces" demographic outcomes.

Instead of economic determinism, we emphasize the significance of uncertainty—political, social, and economic uncertainty—in the history of fertility decline. We place the perception of risk, understood in political, social, and economic terms, at the center of this study. As defined by Ulrich Beck, a "risk society" is one in which there is no way individuals and couples can anticipate accurately the risks they face in an uncertain world. Among those risks are the consequences of childbearing for a man and a woman whose futures are clouded with doubt on many levels. Women who forgo childbearing entirely or who decide to have only one child may well do so to manage the risks of an uncertain future, which could be constrained by family responsibilities. There is no way to know how great these risks are; that is part of the problem. But it is hard to deny that they exist and are evident at many levels—ecological, economic, and political—in places and at times in which supports for the well-being of individuals and families are either absent or under severe threat in many parts of the world. The "risk society," Beck argues, is not an option but an inescapable structural condition of industrializing or industrialized societies, now stretching across the globe. One facet of the unfolding of the "risk society," understood in many ways, is—with notable exceptions—the globalization of fertility decline.

Two Globalization Waves, Divided by a Century

While they acknowledge earlier periods of increased international integration prior to the mid-nineteenth century, historians generally agree that there have so far been two modern "waves" of globalization, divided by a century: from 1880 to 1914, and from the mid-1980s to the present. The "first wave" of globalization was a dominant phenomenon at the turn of the twentieth century. By convention it is said to have originated gradually and incrementally beginning in the 1880s, and to have ended with a bang in 1914—as the Great War exploded into massive destruction of the globalized order that had grown rapidly during the preceding three decades.

The drivers of the powerful forces of the first wave took many forms: political, military, economic, technological, cultural. During that period much of the world was dominated by Great Britain and its semi-global British Empire. The Royal Navy, larger and more powerful than any other fleet, assured the peace and the relative safety of international transport and expanding global trade. Late-nineteenth-century technologies played a central role, too, as new modes of transportation and communication sharply reduced the cost and time involved in international trade. The global service sector—shipping, insurance, and banking—was based in London, the financial capital of the world, and British know-how and manufacturing techniques helped to industrialize the world.

Expansion of international trade was very substantial, driven by new and far more efficient means of bulk transport via steam power, and by the rising attractiveness of international investment that could be protected by the political power of the hegemon, Great Britain. Between 1850 and 1913 the carrying capacity of British (and world) shipping increased more than tenfold, with more than one-third of that increase occurring in the thirteen years before the Great War. The volume in merchandise exports as a percent of GDP rose in western Europe from 8.8 percent in 1870 to 14.1 percent in 1913. In the same period European per capita income rose by 1.3 percent per year, compared to 0.5 percent per year in the classical period of the industrial revolution, between 1820 and 1870. From the late nineteenth century onward European production and trade outstripped population growth, and income inequality increased between the less-developed and the industrialized world.

Then as now, British bankers and businessmen tended to work in English, which, given Britain's imperial power, was the language in which most of the world's trade was conducted. Both economic necessities and the substantial outflow of British people to countries of European settlement, from Australia and New Zealand to Canada and South Africa, created a British diaspora linked by family ties and a common culture. In this period, English became a world language for business, a full century before the Internet reinforced the hegemony of English as the lingua franca of international exchange.

The beginning of the "second wave," of globalization may be (somewhat arbitrarily) located in the mid-1980s, and it is still in motion today. Like the first wave, it too was undergirded by forces that were simultaneously political, economic, technological, and cultural.

The origins of the second wave can be traced to the end of World War II. In 1944, a General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) was created as part of the "high politics" of the 1944 Bretton Woods agreements among the soon-to-be-victorious Allies. The GATT was one of three new global institutions constructed to avoid the mistakes of the post-1918 period and to manage international monetary and financial affairs after the Second World War. The other two were the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), commonly known as the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The intent of the GATT was to facilitate international cooperation via trade liberalization; its most immediate targets were the protectionist tariffs and other measures of the 1930s that were then still formally in effect.

The first wave of globalization was protected by British power for the benefit of British prosperity. The second wave was similar, with the United States being the shield and a beneficiary of postwar recovery and rapidly expanding investment and trade. The political stakes were heightened by the early onset of the Cold War, which made economic competition between the two power blocs a "test" of which system worked better. Long before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Communist system failed that test, and that outcome was both a reflection of intrinsic problems in the way "state socialism" operated and of the strength of the competing, increasingly globalized system constructed outside the Soviet Bloc after 1945. International trade politics in the non-Communist world prepared the ground for the leap forward beginning in the 1980s in information technology and other developments associated with the second wave of globalization.

This outcome was not at all inevitable, nor was it a seamless story of capitalist success and Communist failure. The Cold War made multilateral trade policy politically difficult to sell in the highly charged domestic political arena of the 1950s in the United States. Not surprisingly, the GATT had a notably "hesitant start" (in the delicately phrased words of the World Trade Organization—WTO—which inherited its role). The GATT agreement contained provision for a proposed new international regulatory agency, the International Trade Organization (ITO), as a specialized agency of the United Nations. The draft ITO charter was ambitious. It extended beyond world trade disciplines to include rules on employment, commodity agreements, restrictive business practices, international investment and services. The aim was to create the ITO at the UN Conference on Trade and Employment in Havana, Cuba, in 1947.

The effort floundered, and by 1950 the ITO was effectively stillborn. This premature death followed a decision by the United States government, the postwar hegemon that had led the campaign for postwar trade liberalization, to decline even to seek ratification of the GATT by the US Senate in view of clear indications that a ratification vote would fail.

Notwithstanding the failure of the ITO, the GATT weathered the storm. In particular, its small secretariat persisted, organizing a decades-long series of "trade rounds"—a set of agreements reached via lengthy and often difficult international negotiations and conferences. A list of the many "rounds" is provided in table 1.1.

As is evident in table 1.1, the early rounds focused on reduction of the protectionist tariffs adopted during the prewar Great Depression; these discussions included only small numbers of participating countries. The 1964–1967 Kennedy Round in Geneva, named after the assassinated US president, addressed antidumping measures as well. It also engaged considerably more country participants than the earlier rounds, including some former colonies that had only recently become independent states.

It was not until the Tokyo Round, a series of conferences and negotiations that stretched over much of the 1970s, that agreements regarding reduction of "nontariff" barriers to trade were negotiated. The Tokyo Round also addressed so-called "framework agreements," which provided more ambitious strategies and principles for dialogue about liberalizing trade and investment. In addition to tariffs, nontariff barriers, and framework agreements, the Tokyo Round also addressed trade in services, protection of intellectual property, dispute settlement, and controversial provisions regarding trade in textiles, garments, and agriculture. The Tokyo Round included participation for the first time of more than one hundred countries. It was the gradual accession by increasing numbers of countries to agreements reached during the Tokyo Round that ushered in and helped sustain the second wave of globalization, beginning during the first half of the 1980s and accelerating in the following decades.

The Tokyo Round was followed by the even more ambitious political agreements to facilitate economic globalization embodied in the GATT's Uruguay Round. At these meetings a broader range of issues was included under the rubric of trade. The Uruguay Round also created the World Trade Organization, a formal organization that replaced the small secretariat that had staffed the GATT; the GATT was not an organization per se but instead an agreement on rules. In effect, the WTO represented the final triumph of those who had failed in 1950 to establish the International Trade Organization.

The current round of negotiations about globalization, known as the Doha Round, has been underway since 2001. It has not (yet) been able to achieve new agreements. As may be seen, the number of participating countries has grown still further, and the range of topics being negotiated has also become far broader. It is anyone's guess what the ultimate outcomes will prove to be.

Like the first wave of globalization, the second wave since the early 1980s has also been heavily influenced by, and in turn has heavily influenced, trends in technology, economics, and culture. If the archetypal technologies affecting the first wave were the telegraph, railroad, and steam-powered bulk shipping, those of the second wave have been telecommunications, television, and cable; rapid and low-cost air travel; quantum improvements in shipping by both sea and air; and, ultimately, computers and the Internet. These in turn have contributed to the growth and reach of truly multinational corporations, which may be technically headquartered in a particular country but which in fact operate in a global manner.

The financial sector too has taken advantage of technologies that have allowed development on a massive scale of split-second transfers of capital and currencies around the world, with very low-cost and secure electronic linkages among hundreds of central banks and thousands of financial institutions in all parts of the world. Meanwhile, in one important developed region the embrace of the euro as a common currency for most of Europe has lowered the costs and risks of trade, while at the same time reducing the power of individual governments over the levers of economic policy and, in particular, their previous control of their own currencies.

There can be no doubt that all of these forces and others since the 1980s have had very large impacts upon the volume of international trade, capital flows, foreign direct investment, expansion of multinational firms and their reach, and constraints upon governments' ability to regulate their own economic patterns. Here are a few quantitative indicators:

• Total exports have increased by tenfold over those around 1950.

• More than $1.5 trillion a day now moves across borders, versus only $15 billion per day in 1973.

• Foreign investment in 1997 exceeded $400 billion in 1997, or seven times the level in real terms of the 1970s.

• Between 1983 and 1993, cross-border sales of US Treasury bonds increased from $30 billion to $500 billion per year.

• International bank lending grew from $265 billion in 1975 to $4.2 trillion in 1994.

One important question—one that cannot be addressed here other than in rudimentary form—is whether the second wave of globalization from the 1980s to the present may also be marked by some of the same unanticipated developments that contributed to the fading of the first globalization wave around the turn of the twentieth century. In both cases, political leaders of the hegemonic power(s) believed that the palpable domestic prosperity created during the early liberalizing decades of the globalization drive could continue to grow indefinitely, if only they could continue to spread the reach of globalization. In both case, increasingly prosperous private corporate and financial interests exploited the short-term incentives provided by globalization to export their technologies, manufacturing, and employment-generating and other activities to lower-cost settings. In both cases, free trade arguably provided the conditions for the creation of competitors, which threatened to overtake the economic advantage of the prior hegemon. In 1914, that threat helped pave the way to war. In the early twenty-first century, international tensions are evident, though the risks of their precipitating war are less due to the common threat of nuclear disaster.

Demography and Globalization

For our purposes here, it is important to recognize that both the first and second globalization waves have had powerful impacts upon the volume and pace of international migration. It is likely no accident that the first wave of globalization, 1880–1914, was coterminous with the classical period of mass migration, especially from eastern and southern Europe to the New World. Over precisely this span of thirty-four years, from 1880 to 1914, an estimated 30 million persons moved from their countries of origin to another, representing some 2 percent of the estimated 1880 world population of about 1.4 billion. For tens of millions of these, the primary destination was the United States. Between 1880 and 1914, on the order of 21 million immigrants were admitted to the United States for permanent residence. Nearly all came from Europe, and primarily from southern and eastern Europe.

Excerpted from The Global Spread of Fertility Decline by JAY WINTER. Copyright © 2013 by Yale University. Excerpted by permission of Yale UNIVERSITY PRESS.
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Table of Contents

Preface vii

1 Globalization and Demography 1

2 European Population: Interpretations and Anxieties 40

3 Islam in Europe 74

4 The China Trajectory 110

5 Population and Politics in India 139

6 Japan: Family Structure, Abortion, and Fertility since 1945 169

7 North America and NAFTA 207

8 Conclusion: Putting the Politics Back In 245

Appendix A UN Projections of Total Fertility Rates for Selected Countries 251

Appendix B Effects of and Adaptations to Changing Demographic Composition: A User's Guide 272

Notes 287

Index 323

What People are Saying About This

Joseph Chamie

Interesting, informative and timely . . . fascinating reading, covering diverse settings with special attention to fertility and international migration.—Joseph Chamie, Director of Research, Center for Migration Studies 

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