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09 - Fertility Definition Proximate Determinants

09 - Fertility Definition Proximate Determinants - SOCI 121...

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SOCI 121: Population Problems F ERTILITY : W HAT IS IT ? W HAT D ETERMINES IT ? Objectives: Discuss Fertility List and Describe the Proximate Determinants of Fertility Class Notes: What is Fertility? When demographers speak of fertility, they refer to the number of children born to a woman Fertility, like mortality, is composed of two parts, one biological and one social. o The biological component refers to the capacity to reproduce, and while obviously a necessary condition for parenthood, it is not sufficient alone. The Biological Component o The physical ability to reproduce is called fecundity. A fecund person can produce children; an infecund person cannot. Most estimates of fecundity are actually based on levels of fertility (by which is meant the number of children a person has had). Couples who have tried unsuccessfully for at least 12 months to conceive a child are usually called “infertile” by physicians (demographers would say “infecund”) o A more general concept is the idea of impaired fecundity (also known as subfecundity). This is measured by a women’s response to survey questions about her fecundity status. A woman is classified as having impaired fecundity if: She believes it is impossible for her to have a baby If a physician has told her not to become pregnant because the pregnancy would pose a health risk for her or her baby If she has been continuously married for at least 36 months, has not used contraception, and yet has not gotten pregnant. o Fecundity varies according to age. Among women, it tends to increase from menarche (the onset of menstruation, which usually occurs in the early teens), peak in the twenties, and then decline to menopause (the end of menstruation). Male fecundity increases from puberty to young adulthood, and then gradually declines, but men are generally fecund to a much older age than are women. Until the mid-1990s, the oldest verified mother in the world had been an American named Ruth Kistler, who gave birth to a child in Los Angeles, California, in 1956 at the age of 57 years, 129 days. Now, however, hormone treatment of postmentopausal women suggests that a woman of virtually any age might be able to bear a 1
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SOCI 121: Population Problems child by implanting in a woman an embryo created from a donated egg impregnated with sperm. o This has been done for several women over the age of 50, including a 63-year-old Filipino-American woman, also in Los Angeles, in 1996. o The world’s verified most prolific mother was a Russian woman in the 18 th century who gave birth to 69 children. She actually had “only” 27 pregnancies, but experienced several multiple births. o Assuming that most couples are normally fecund, how many babies could be born to women in a population that uses no method of fertility control?
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09 - Fertility Definition Proximate Determinants - SOCI 121...

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