(2000) 'Reproductive Regimes: Changing Relations of Inter-
dependence and Fertility Change'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 5, no. 1, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/5/1/irwin.html>
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Received: 31/1/2000 Accepted: 26/5/2000 Published: 31/5/2000
".. variables included in decision-making models cannot have consistent effects. The effect of a given variable must be contingent on the manner in which it is conceptualized, and the manner in which it is conceptualized must be relative to specific culture regions and culture- historical periods" (Handwerker 1986, p11)
"Differences in the cultural values and the social and political institutions of different times or different places (or indeed different social groups in the same time and place) will significantly affect the forms and flows of information perceived by individuals as relevant to their economic priorities" (Szreter 1996, p.39).
"Beginning in the 1870s .. women were starting to stop before the end of their fertile years signalling not only a fundamental strategic change in patterns of family limitation but new attitudes towards fertility itself" (Gillis et al 1992, p.2).
2Cliquet comments on how altruism is a cultural attribution regarding new attitudes to the quality of children at the turn of the twentieth century, when it was men who had expanding opportunities for self fulfilment. Now women are making progress in respect of self development the accent has shifted to individualisation, with its connotations of egocentricity (Cliquet 1991).
3The empirical data and related analyses throughout the paper are based on UK patterns unless elsewhere specified.
4The Total Period Fertility Rate (TPFR) is the aggregate of age specific birth rates across all fertile ages in the reference year and can be interpreted as the average number of children a woman would have if she experienced the age specific fertility rates of that year throughout her childbearing life.
5The fertility replacement rate is 2.1
6Interestingly, in Sweden, where declining fertility rates witnessed a recovery from the latter part of the 1980s, the evidence suggests this is largely due to a 'catching up' by older women, commencing families and spacing children closer to one another (Springfeldt 1991).
7 Figures from the 1970s and 1980s reveal that the earnings of women improved relative to those of men. This development reveals more than a one-off transition in the early 1970s, as this is sometimes attributed to the Equal Pay Act for example (Joshi 1990). A disaggregation by age groups reveals significant improvements in the earnings of women in their late teens and throughout their twenties, relative to age equivalent men, throughout the 1970s and 1980s (New Earnings Surveys). Prior to this an improvement in the earnings of both young women and young men in the early 1970s accelerated a general trend in place in the post war decades, of an improvement in the earnings of male youth relative to adult male workers. After the mid 1970s there was a decline in the earnings of young men relative to older workers (Irwin 1995). From the mid 1970s onwards there was an improvement in the earnings of women in their twenties relative to age equivalent men, and a decline in the earnings of men in their late teens and twenties relative to the earnings of men in the highest earning age group (Irwin 1995). I there develop in detail the argument that change in patterns of earnings, and claims on employment more widely, are best understood in relation to women's and men's claims and obligations in household resourcing and reproduction.
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