Cover: Does Population Adjust to the Environment?

Does Population Adjust to the Environment?

A Comment

Published 1971

by T. P. Schultz

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Comments evoked by a paper presented at the December 1970 American Economics Association meetings by Professor Richard A. Easterlin. Easterlin's thesis that man's reproductive behavior responds to his environment is not yet accepted by all those concerned with reducing population growth. While Easterlin's hypotheses appear sound, he has not proved that they account for fertility differences over time and among seven U.S. Census regions; quite different conceptual and statistical approaches are needed to do so. A simultaneous equations technique is required to express, and a formal statistical model to test, the complex multifaceted hypothesis. A series of RAND studies (R-643, RM-5405, RM-5978, RM-5981, RM-6322, RM-6385, P-4449) have unraveled what appear to be economic determinants of family size. These suggest that the fertility differentials may reflect child mortality rates and the value of the mothers' time more than the costs of child rearing.

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