Using microdata from the 1970 and 1980 censuses, we specify and test multilevel models of fertility determination for four Southeast Asian societies—Indonesia, Peninsular Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. Social context is indexed by provincial characteristics representing women’s status, the roles of children, and infant mortality. These contextual variables are hypothesized to have direct and indirect (through individual socioeconomic characteristics) effects on current fertility. The contextual variables account for a modest but significant share of individual variation in fertility and about one-half of the total between area variation in fertility. The women’s status contextual variables, particularly modern sector employment, have the largest and most consistent effect on lowered fertility. The results based on the other contextual variables provide mixed support for the initial hypotheses.
An erratum to this article is available at https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03208244.