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The Ecology of ChildhoodHow Our Changing World Threatens Children's Rights$
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Barbara Bennett Woodhouse

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780814794845

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814794845.001.0001

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Falling Birth Rates and Rural Depopulation

Falling Birth Rates and Rural Depopulation

(p.97) 5 Falling Birth Rates and Rural Depopulation
The Ecology of Childhood

Barbara Bennett Woodhouse

NYU Press

Chapter five moves from ethnography at the village level to examine the demographics of declining fertility and rural depopulation plaguing many affluent nations. A failure of generational renewal threatens the well-being of individuals, communities and societies. With the story of a child who is the last child in his remote Italian village, the author illustrates the critical importance of children to each other and to their communities. After introducing demographic concepts such as birth rate and replacement rate, total fertility rate and replacement rate fertility, the book discusses the low birth rate crisis in Italy where the population is declining at an unsustainable rate. It examines factors affecting birth rates, including adolescent fertility rate, mother’s marital status, percentage of women in the workforce, and gendered division of domestic labour. In comparison with Italy, US birth rates have been relatively robust; however, after the Great Recession US birth rates declined steadily and are now well below replacement rate. The chapter closes with discussion of the interplay between politics and demographics, including rules on birth right citizenship, the role of immigration in rejuvenating populations, and the misuse of demographic data to fuel anti-immigrant, sectarian, and racial conflict.

Keywords:   Fertility, Depopulation, Birth rate, Gender roles, Work, Family, Italy, United States, Demography

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