Fertility and Culture: Anthropological Insights

Caroline H Bledsoe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Between the fertility event that increases a population and the cultural ideas that shape how it is perceived and analyzed lies an engaging set of issues. To grapple with them, demographically oriented approaches to fertility, and to reproduction more broadly, have increasingly sought insight from sociocultural anthropology and its longtime concern with the ideas by which people understand their worlds. The results, despite the vast differences in method and philosophical orientation that typically separate demography and anthropology, are forging new ways to look at fertility. This article addresses the recent history of the anthropology and demography relationship in studies of fertility, focusing especially on developments that take culture as a fluid and contested set of mental schemes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
StatePublished - Mar 26 2015


  • Abortion
  • Africa
  • Anthropology
  • Birth control
  • Birth rates
  • Childbearing and aging
  • China
  • Contraception
  • Culture
  • Culture and fertility
  • Demography
  • Fertility
  • Islam and birth control
  • Male fertility
  • Migration and fertility
  • Parenthood, cultural assignment of
  • Reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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