The bulk of fertility research—or research surrounding which factors influence women’s decisions to have children—was conducted in the mid-twentieth century, when women joined the labor force at unprecedented rates and drastically altered the nature of the United States economy. Very little research has been conducted since. This study therefore aims to generate a contemporary fertility model in order to determine how the factors influencing women’s fertility decisions have changed since the 1950s, especially considering how women’s rights and the traditional family structure have changed since the 1950s. Using a probit regression model, it is found that a woman’s age, marital status, race, education, employment status, and income all significantly impact her likelihood of having a child. It is also found that, contrary to findings from the mid-twentieth century, extrinsic variables such as spouse’s income, women’s wages relative to men’s, and relative economic aspirations do not impact women’s decisions to have children. The results of this study therefore suggest that the factors influencing women’s fertility decisions have in fact changed since the mid-twentieth century—changes likely attributable to women’s increased independence, both in terms of the economy and the structure of the family.
This paper evaluates the fourth Millennium Development Goal that calls for a two-thirds reduction in child mortality rates. The study provides an empirical analysis specifically on child mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa. The final analysis shows that GDP, the prevalence of HIV, the improvement of water resources, and female education are the four most significant variables in determining child mortality. The analysis concludes that governments should focus on targeting funds to specific initiatives in education, improvement of water resources, and reducing the spread of HIV infections. The current annual rate of reduction for child mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa is 4.1%. This is insufficient to reach the fourth Millennium Development goal by the 2015 deadline.