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Is fertility decline evolutionary?

Jeronimo O. Muniz, University of Wisconsin at Madison

The paper will examine the decline of fertility following an evolutionary perspective that questions to what extent having children is part of a rational calculus. Establishing the theoretical link between evolutionary game theory, fertility decline and the demographic prisoner's dilemma - which arises when selfish individual preferences provokes negative outcomes in the macro level - this paper defends that people learn, evolve, and change their actions and reproductive behaviors over time as the norms, traditions and opportunities gradually evolve. What people believe to be doing only for themselves generate peer effects and creates social contamination. Individual actions are, therefore, a consequence and at the same time a cause of others’ behavior. The paper will also discuss why agent-based models are a promissory approach to understand demographic behavior from evolutionary perspectives and will speculate on the possible paths to reverse the process of fertility decline.

Presented in Poster Session 5: Poster Session 5