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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chapter 17 Women’s Roles,Opportunity Cost,and Fertility CHISTINE OPPONG

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The relationship between women’s roles and fertility has become an increasing research and policy concern.
Nomerous hypotheses ,often focusing on the opportunity costs of childbearing and rearig ,have been formulated linking these roles to fertility regulation practices.The specific variables studied have included the rising marketprice of maternal time ,the economic rewards and demand (including domestic labor)of children,the division of childcare among parents and kin,and conflicts between maternal and other roles.
This research has suffered generally from a lack of intregration.sholars fromseveral disciplines have used differentconcepts,types of data ,and methodologies,generating a need for synthesizing conceptual franeworks and approaches (see Burch ,1980,Mauldin and Barelson ,1979,Tabah,1979.This need for cross-culturally applicable techniques has been intensified by the growing body of data gathered over the past decade by scholars in the area of women’s studies.The need is also apparent in view of the wide variations across cultures in women’s roles and associated opportunity costs.This complexity is further intensified by engoing changes in distribution of wealth ,division of labor ,patterns of consumption,and so on ,as well as legal ,political,and cultural changes.
The present papar offers a conceptual framework that…used to integrate data on women’s role .In …...,it indicates how the concepts of roletheory ,1979 can be incorporated into models seeking to in the opportunity costs of childcare,here a recent synthesis by Turchi and Bryant (1979) proves useful.First,a basic conceptual frame work is presented and its major components –women’s roles and and the opportunity costs of childrend –defined.Next ,these components arediscussed in further detail.This is followed by an examination of potential conflicts to the opportunity costs of childrearing ,and the implication for fertility desires and behavior.Finally,some suggestions for further research are given.
A conceptual framework for integrating cross-cultural data on women’s roles and demographic change,including fertility and its regulation ,has recently been developed (oppong 1980).This framework divides women’s roles into seven categories :maternal,conjugal,domestic,occupational,kin,community,and individual.The last includes relationships with friends and peers,as well as the “self actualizing “.activities associated with modernization and affluence.These roles involve various behaviors and expectations.Role behaviors include the acquisition and allocation of resources (time,knowledge,and money and material goods)the exercise of power and decision making ,and the conduct of relationships withothers.Role expectations include prescriptions(norm,and rules and law),values(preferences andassassmens)and perceptions (descriptions and beliefs ,and representation ).from these categories,asimple matrix can be developed to classify various types of data (oppong and Curch ,1981 )and subsequently totest hypotheses and build models addressing the relationship between women’s roles and fertility (see oppong and Abu,forthcoming ).
Te other primary component of the conceptual framework is the opportunity costs of childrent.Microeconomic theory has defined threevmain factors as the critical determinants of the demand for children.(1)the perceived value of children (2)the relative time and material resources available,and(3)the perceived opportunity cocts of children.The opportunity costs include the time spent by parents and others in caring for children and the value of market goods and services used in childrearing.Like other kinds ofcosts,these may be viewed according to alternative expenditures and activities foregone.perceived increases in these fore gone alternatives are given as major reasons in many cultural contexts for decreasing family size desires.
Economic theories of fertility have usually assumed that childrearing timeis largely provided by mothers,thus the cost of their time is a central variable in many such models.Women’s other roles have seldom been addressed.The main choice or tradeoff has been assumed to be between occupational and parental activities .As Mueller (1982) has pointed out ,little attention is paid in such models to the possibility that time for outher housework and leisure may be curtailed to make room for childcare ,or,for that matter ,the reverse .Because the value of the mother’s time is thought of as determined by her icome earning potential,past analyses have usually estimated the the opportunity cost of a woman’s time on the basis of her education and possibly years of labor market experience ,sometimes occupation,location and other variables such as household composition and therefore substitute childcare have been considered.The use of educational level as a proxy for opportunity cost has unfortunately been the basis for analyses in the developing world,where such assumptions do not necessarily apply (e.g. Snider,1974 ).Some of the shortcomings of these analyses have recently been emphasized (e.g. (oppong,1982 a).given the wide degree of croos cultural variability n the opportunity costs of childrearing,these costs needto be delineated with much greater attention to their complexity than has been the case in the past.figure I represents the interrelationships between women’s roles and the time and material inputs to childrearing,and how these determine the opportunity costs of children.These two primary determinants are in turn influenced by expectations,which vary widely ,both historically and cross-culturally.Tables1 and 2 list some of these expectations .
As figure I and Tabls 1 and 2 indicate, a number of factor affect the time parents spend in childrearing .These include norms,values,and beliefs regarding childreaing (parental role expectations)the value placed by parents on the time they spend with their children,the amount of time spent by kin or others,and the costs of childcare services.The amount of time spent in maternal activities will also be affected by alternative role expectations,it has been argued thath the degree ofavailability of such alternate activities,which tends to increase with modernization,will determine the priority given to childrearing time(see Turchi and Bryant,1979).
The following sections examine sections examine in greater detail the primary components of the conceptual framework.First,the reward associated with women’s various roles,maternal and nonmaternal,are addressed.Thisis followedby a discussion of the opportunity costs in material goods and time of childrearing.Next is an examination of the potential conflicts between women’s role.Throughout these sections,a number of hypotheses are presened,along with related evidence,these hypoytheses focus on the potential fertility effects of the various components of the framework.
Any role will have certain associated potential rewards.Essentially, these include satisfaction,securityand support in the form of material resources (economic reward),influence ,and power (political rewards),prestige and approval