Abstract

Recent studies by Adelman and by Friedlander and Silver, which have investigated whether regression equations derived from cross-section data can be used to predict the impact of socioeconomic development on changing levels of fertility, are reviewed critically. Regression analyses based on data for 57 countries c. 1960 show that fertility (gross reproduction rate) varies cross-sectionally with region as well as with level of development (as measured by per capita income, percent labor force in primary sector, expectation of life, illiteracy rate). Using equations derived from the cross-section study and time-series data for five European countries during the period that their fertility rates fell, it is shown that predictions about past fertility changes are in error. The results suggest caution in the use of cross-section relations to predict the course of fertility in developing countries.

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