Demographic transition theory, Regional analyses, Total fertility rate


This thesis builds on previous United Nations’ research investigating factors affecting the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in six (6) states: Burkina Faso, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, the Philippines, and Uganda. The present research, however, provides a broader assessment of the TFR and the potential causes of its decline by examining countries across nine (9) regions of the world – sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, South Asia, East Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, Eastern and Southeastern Europe, and the former Soviet Socialist Republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The present analyses are also conducted over time, specifically from 1960 through 2002. Five (5) primary hypotheses regarding factors affecting the Total Fertility Rate are examined using feasible generalized least squares regression analysis. First, foreign debt is hypothesized to have a positive relationship to TFR. That is, holding all else constant, as foreign debt increases, TFR is expected to increase as well. Foreign debt is operationalized first, as total external debt; second, as long-term debt, and third, as total debt service as a percentage of exports of goods and services. Second, foreign aid, the level of socioeconomic development, and the extent of females’ education are all hypothesized to have negative relationships to TFR. That is, all else constant, as foreign aid increases, TFR is expected to decrease. All else constant, as the level of socioeconomic development increases, TFR is also expected to decrease. All else constant, as the extent of females’ education increases, TFR is also expected to decrease. Foreign aid is operationalized as first, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loans and International Development Agency (IDA) credits; and second, as official development assistance and official aid. The level of socioeconomic development is operationalized as the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita in terms of purchasing power parity. The extent of females’ education is operationalized as first, the adult female literacy rate (ages 15 and above), and second, as the ratio of young literate females to males (ages 15 – 24). Finally, whereas previous scholars have hypothesized that industrialization reduces TFR (the Western European “demographic transition” hypothesis), the present research proposes that this relationship may not hold in developing countries. This possibility is investigated by analyzing the relationships between TFR and first, the value added of agriculture (as a percentage of GDP); second, the value added of industry (also as a percentage of GDP); third, the value added of manufacturing as a percentage of GDP; and fourth, the value added of services as a percentage of GDP. The findings presented here suggest first, that the foreign debt and foreign aid have differing effects on TFR in different regions of the world. Second, the effects of socioeconomic development and females’ education are more consistent (than foreign debt and foreign aid) across the different regions – but intriguing variations still exist. Finally, it appears that, with very few exceptions, the Western European-based demographic transition model does not hold for non-Western and developing areas. Therefore, new, region-specific models of TFR need to be developed – and public policy needs to be based on these more accurate, more context-appropriate models.


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Graduation Date





Jungblut, Bernadette


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Degree Program

Political Science








Release Date

January 2006

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences