Thursday, April 11, 2013

Plummeting fertility after 1960

JC commented yesterday about the steep drop in Maori fertility after the pill was introduced.
There's likely a fascinating story to tell on Maori fertility. According to my Yearbook 2000 Maori women had 6 kids per female in 1960 but when the Birth Control pill arrived that plummeted to just over 2 per female by 1990 before a steady recovery to the present level. Even the arrival of the DPB in 1973 didn't slow the descent. So why did these women take such drastic control of their fertility back then, and why did it increase from 1990? The story is almost certainly rooted in changes in work, social changes, a precipitous fall in religious observation and marriage and Govt policies.

I agree. Any rapid change in social behaviour provokes curiosity. Here's a couple of charts, the first for Maori and the second for all births:

The second chart shows the same pattern occurring across all females. Maori just dropped from larger family size.

Women took control because they could. Maori and non-Maori.

They flowed into the workforce looking for better living standards. Infant mortality was dropping so fewer births were needed as  'replacements'. Abortion was easier to access. Family benefit was constantly decreasing in real value. Marriages were ending faster. Woman were increasingly marrying older reducing their child-bearing window of opportunity.

Effect of the DPB is at the margins, but possibly apparent during the (recessionary) 1990s for Maori fertility.

Any other ideas?

(The fertility rate pre-1960 is also interesting reflecting WW1 and 11 and The Depression.)

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