Volume 33 - Article 4 | Pages 93–112  

Explaining fertility: The potential for integrative approaches: Introduction to the Special Collection "Theoretical Foundations of the Analysis of Fertility"

By Johannes Huinink, Martin Kohli, Jens Ehrhardt

This article is part of the Special Collection 16 "Theoretical Foundations of the Analysis of Fertility"


Background: A theoretical approach to explaining fertility behavior in developed countries needs an integrative perspective. As fertility behavior takes place in a multi-level setting of biological, psychological, social, economic, cultural, and political conditions, theories to explain fertility behavior need to be drawn from several academic disciplines and to address different levels of analysis.

Objective: With this Special Collection (SC) we contribute to the discussion by giving an update on current theoretical thinking about fertility. In our introduction, we elucidate some of the challenges of explaining fertility and fertility change from an integrated, interdisciplinary perspective, and address problems of theory construction. We address possible points of departure for tackling these challenges. We then introduce the articles gathered in the SC.

Conclusions: Demographers have already presented some promising attempts at a more comprehensive model of fertility behavior and fertility trends. However, further joint efforts by scholars of the disciplines involved, both theoretically and empirically, are needed. One should continue a discussion promoting an integrated system of concepts and an exchange between the disciplines on key research questions.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

A life-course approach to fertility
Volume 30 - Article 45

Introduction to the special collection on spatial mobility, family dynamics, and gender relations
Volume 41 - Article 21

Running out of time? Understanding the consequences of the biological clock for the dynamics of fertility intentions and union formation
Volume 40 - Article 1