Marital fertility

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Nobel Prize-winning economist George Akerlof explained his findings in non technical terms in Slate magazine:

“Although doubt will always remain about what causes a change in social custom, the technology-shock theory does fit the facts. The new reproductive technology was adopted quickly, and on a massive scale. Marital and fertility patterns changed with similar drama, at about the same time."

1962, birth control pills, after a decade, are widely available to women in US & Europe.

Even among the Hutterites, a most prolific group, better health and longevity have been accompanied by a 50% decline in fertility rates in fifty years between 1930 and 1980. If as demographers argue that the highest fertility rates are below the biological potential maximum of fertility then what keeps fertility down?

In 1933 and 1988 the total fertility rate (TFR) in this country was virtually identical reflecting the small size of families with about two children per couple. But how women achieved this low level of fertility was quite different. Surveys showed that in the 1930s the chief means of contraception among American couples, in order of popularity, were withdrawal (males), douches, condoms, and spermicidal. Less than five per cent said they used diaphragms or intrauterine device (IUD). By contrast in the 1980s an overwhelming number of women reported a reliance on sterilization (over 35%) and nearly a third used birth control pills. Fourteen percent used condoms and diaphragm use went up to over five percent. Douches had been shown to be of little or no value and were rarely used. A consistent patter from these two very different periods and cohorts are the desire, the ability, and the mastery of women to limit their fertility.

Since ancient times the desire to interfere with or forestall pregnancy has existed in all societies. For instance, between the 5th century BC and the 3rd century AD on the northern coast of Africa a wild herb called sylphion (Ferula historical) grew among the hills south of the Libyan shore around the port city of Cyrene, a Greek colony from the 6th century BC. The herb's importance lies in its widespread use in the Greek and-Roman world as an oral contraceptive far more effective than the use of crocodile dung among the even older, neighboring Egyptian civilization. The inability of gardeners to grow the herb, related to the carrot family, in other areas of the Mediterranean made it an important trading commodity until sylphion's believed extinction in the 3rd century AD. Today, birth control forms are numerous and varied.

Forms of female birth regulation or fertility control
Breast-feeding (extended lactation)
Cervical Cap
Female Condom
Morning-after pill
Pill, among most widely used
Sterilization, most commonly used method in the USA
RU486, anti-fertility drug
Vaginal spermicidal lotions

Male forms of contraception
Withdrawal (pull-back) coitus interruptus

Infanticide (neonaticide)

Contraceptive means used to limit, regulate or reduce the number of pregnancies.