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A life-course approach to fertility

BACKGROUND The life-course approach as a methodological framework for the empirical analysis of longitudinal individual-level data has fundamentally changed the agenda of demographic research. However, these methodological innovations have not been paralleled by a similarly successful theoretical in... Full description

Main Author: Huinink, Johannes
Contributors: Kohli, Martin | Author
Contained in: Demographic Research Vol. 30 (2014), p. 1293-1326
Journal Title: Demographic Research
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Links: Volltext (www.jstor.org)
ISSN: 2363-7064
Additional Keywords: research-article
Language: English
Notes: Copyright: © 2014 Johannes Huinink & Martin Kohli
Physical Description: Online-Ressource
ID (e.g. DOI, URN): 26348236
PPN (Catalogue-ID): JST120706601
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Internes Format
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520 |a BACKGROUND The life-course approach as a methodological framework for the empirical analysis of longitudinal individual-level data has fundamentally changed the agenda of demographic research. However, these methodological innovations have not been paralleled by a similarly successful theoretical integration in the life-course field. OBJECTIVE We aim to show that the life course is an indispensable framework for demographic research. Social forces, both structural and cultural, are articulated in the life-course dimension, and the individuals who act under their influence conceive of their actions in life-course terms. Thus, theories of fertility need to be set in these terms as well. RESULTS In substantive terms, the life-course approach promises to integrate the extra- and intra-individual levels of relevant processes in asystem of interdependent dynamicsthat unfolds over time; to conceptualize fertility and family formation as part of amultidimensional process of welfare productionwhich requires complex decisions on the proper allocation of time and resources to the different life domains; to examine howcultural scripts and institutional programsshape and interact with intentions and preferences; and to highlight theimpact of the past and anticipation of the futureas a framework for the number, timing and spacing of births. In methodological terms, the life-course approach requires a shift in the efforts to identify complex causal mechanisms in empirical research. CONCLUSIONS Even though the life-course approach still lacks the status of a systematic theory, several hypotheses can already be drawn from it, which extend the scope of fertility research, and demonstrate it to be an indispensable framework for studying fertility decisions. 
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