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Social and Economic Aspects of Human Fertility

East Baltimore
2nd term
Population, Family and Reproductive Health
3 credits
Academic Year:
2019 - 2020
Instruction Method:
Class Times:
  • M W,  3:30 - 4:50pm
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Undergrads Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructors:
Linnea Zimmerman

Across the world, fertility varies from an average of less than 1 child per woman to more than 7 children per woman. In this class, you will learn about the social and economic theories and frameworks that have been proposed to explain this variation, including the role of education, gender equity, and religion. You will gain an understanding of the many factors that affect fertility desires and behaviors around the world and of how policies and programs have been successful (or not) in shaping these behaviors. It is a great course for anyone interested in reproductive and women’s health, and also meets requirements for PFRH students for areas of interest.

The study of fertility is integral to population studies and understanding population changes and dynamics (along with mortality and migration). It offers an essential background for those studying women’s, infant and perinatal health. Covers social and economic theories of fertility change, explores fertility transitions across geographic contexts, examines major distal and intermediate determinants of fertility, and considers policies affecting fertility globally. It is based on a mix of lectures, readings, and interactive discussion among students and faculty.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Define and interpret standard measures of human fertility
  2. Describe trends and variations in fertility over time and across countries
  3. Identify social and economic factors associated with fertility differences within and across populations
  4. Discuss the demographic, social, and economic consequences of fertility levels and fertility change
  5. Apply sociological, economic, and demographic frameworks to the study of fertility and evaluate how applications differ in high- and low- fertility settings
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 50% Written Assignment(s)
  • 25% Presentation(s)
  • 5% Outline for presentation
  • 20% Participation

Instructor Consent:

Consent required for some students

Consent Note:

Consent needed for undergraduate students

For consent, contact: