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Discuss at least three theoretical frameworks that explain the historical decline in fertility (from late 19th century on)


Explain why fertility in Canada is low, and how family policies matter.


Summarize the recent changes in Canada’s immigration policy and discuss whether Canada’s immigration policy is effective in addressing population-related issues in Canada.

Three theoretical frameworks that explain the historical decline in fertility

Fertility rates have been decreasing from the late 19th century. This historical decline in fertility has been explained by various theories of fertility as discussed. Mason .0. Karen in his work ‘Explaining Fertility Transition ‘reviews various major theories that try to explain the decline in fertility with economic and sociological explanations emphasized. To begin with, Mason starts with reviewing Classic Demographic Transition Theory as illustrated by Thomson (1930) and Notestein (1953). This theory relates to declining infertility to changes in social life brought about by industrialization and urbanization.

It leads to a decline in death rate accompanied by fertility decline by increasing children survival, consequently, influencing the size of families. This theory has met harsh criticism when applied on a decadal scale as it is frequently contradicted from various demographers such as Beckers (1962) and Henry (1961). Their criticism is based on there being a weak correlation between time fertility started declining and level of industrialization/urbanization. Classic Demographic Transition theory is more successful when considered at centennial level. However, it still requires some crucial but obvious modifications.

Caldwell’s theory of Wealth flows explains the decline in fertility. Caldwell attributes fertility decline to emotional nucleation of the family that enables children to be net economic beneficiaries in the family as opposed to parents, a phenomena Caldwell refers to as ‘reversal of intra-familial wealth flows. With individual behaviors being an economically rational reversal of intra-familial wealth flows is triggered by social-economic factors Davis and Blake (1956). Caldwell tries to distinguish two type of societal setup, that is a society with high fertility and that with low fertility. In High fertility society, children work tends to exceed their consumption levels with no net economic gain from lowering the fertility. Wealth, therefore, flows from younger to the older generation (Cyr, Di Stefano & Desjardins, 2013). In contrary, Low fertility society has no net economic gain from having children, and therefore wealth flows from parents to children.

This is brought about by structural changes in society such as mandatory education. A typical analysis also done by SULLIVAN (1996) illustrates that this theory can best be applied in developing countries with a sustained infusion of western values that would lead to nucleation of family hence increasing costs of raising children and change in the direction of wealth flows and reduction of fertility. Some of the criticism of Caldwell's theory argues that family nucleation in Europe preceded decline fertility long before the theory was formulated. Also, arguments against the notion that high fertility is always beneficial in pre-transitional societies, therefore, Caldwell exaggerated economic utility of children in this theory.

Why fertility in Canada is low, and how family policies matter

The Neo-Classical Microeconomic theory of fertility as discussed by Becker 1960 is both an economic and sociological theory. Becker emphasizes on the three proximate determinants of couple fertility; the relative cost of children in comparison to other goods, income received by the couples and lastly their preference for having children in comparison to other forms of interests/consumption. Basing on children, Becker argues that demand for children is similar to that of consumer durable Preston and Berelson (1975). Children are seen as an economic liability whose utility is non-monetary. Becker further argues that parents tend to engage in trade-offs between children number and quality. As a result, to raise ‘quality children,' more monetary and non-monetary investments raising the cost of having more children leading declined fertility.

Like any other theory, Becker’s theory has weaknesses and thus has been criticized. According to Blake criticism in 1968 regarding this theory, Blake argues that parents do not have total control over child quality. Also, children can be considered as consumer durables with neither return policy nor substitution contradicting with what Becker tries to argue out.

In Canada, the fertility rate has been declining for some time now. This trend can be attributed to various factors which include but not limited to; the age of entry into marriage or sexual unions, concentration, infecundity, and employment (Beckers, 1962). Low fertility in Canada is contributed by late entry into marriage brought about by factors such as cohabitation and education, especially amongst women.

For instance, according to Henry (1961) research, those cohabiting tend to stay together with no objective to bear children together delaying their marriage. With delayed marriage in consideration, childbearing within marriage is experienced leading to low fertility. Contrary to earlier periods, the current time frame regarding childbearing has increasingly become concentrated at age 30. Due to this, many women bear their first child at a relatively older age compared with other decades hence concluding their childbearing at a relatively shorter period.

Unemployment has also largely contributed to the low birth rate in Canada. Unemployment and an increase in precarious jobs do not serve as incentives to having children. Delay infertility is given priority until one secures stable employment. In line with this, employment amongst ladies has also seen childbearing amongst them declining as most of them choose to focus on their jobs as a result of long working hours rather than bearing children (Mason, 1997). A good number of them resort to bear few children contributing to the low fertility rate.

Recent changes in Canada’s immigration policy and discussion of its effectiveness in addressing population-related issues

Family policies matter most when it comes influencing fertility rates for Canada. For instance, comparing family policies adopted by Quebec as compared by the Rest of Canada, one notices the differences thus can evidently guess their influence on fertility (Mason, 1997). In Quebec around 1998 to 1996, there was a baby bonus program where larger payments were to be given to citizens with higher birth orders. In 1997, this was replaced with $5 a day child care program.

These programs were targeted to increase women's labor force participation and ensure all children in optimal child development. Looking at the impact of family policies on Quebec population, show that adopting suitable and friendly family policies matters most regarding increasing fertility rate. With suitable family policies being put in place, Canada’s low fertility rate can experience significant improvements.

Canada has made changes to its immigration policy with an aim to increase its immigrant thus increase its population. It targets about 300000-320000 in 2018 as explained by Browne. Some of the key immigration changes that were implemented by the IRCC, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada in 2018 so far are among others; biometric requirements, medical inadmissibility, expansion of the super visa, LMIA Temporary worker Program Application price and changes in Express entry (Beaujot & Wang, 2010).

Every immigrant will be arriving through the federal economic stream managed by the Express Entry System which is a new way of the IRCC managing the intake of applications for the immigrants.  Lesthaeghe and Surkyn (1988) also explain that the express Entry System is one of the two main streams made by the Canadian Province of Alberta replacing the previous employer driven stream and strategic recruitment stream.

Canada has had a Canadian Biometrics Program since 2013 but July 31, 2018 changes were made on it requiring immigrants to provide biometrics to travel to Canada. This policy requires that anyone applying for the visa has to provide photos of their face and fingerprints in order to complete the process of visa application (Bacci, 2013). These changes were made to keep track of every applicant and therefore improving the overall security regarding identity theft.  

Regarding changes in ‘Medical inadmissibility" policy, initially, it allowed Immigrants, Refugees, and Citizenship for Canada to not allow people for permanent residency due to either they or any of their immediate family member having a disability or special medical condition that requires attention. This move was to minimize the chances of the public being held responsible in funding for their health or their social services (Bacci, 2013). Recent changes to this policy explain that the government can no longer consider social or health spending when deciding whether someone can move to Canada.

Consequently, the expansion of the Super Visa policy, Parents and Grandparents Super Visa were increased from the previous 10000 to 17000 (Bacci, 2013). This change was brought about by the desire to reunite families which will be done using a randomized selection process, and those selected will file a complete application (Bacci, 2013). LMIA Temporary Worker Program Application Price. In this policy, the application fee for LMIA requests is increased from $275 per worker fee for LMos to $1000 per worker. The two LMIA system job positions are divided into two job categories; high wage and low wage. High wage is the jobs that the salary meets the median wage in the province where the job will be done while low wage is if the salary is below the median.

With the recent changes in Canada immigration policy discussed above being implemented, much stands to change regarding addressing population crisis being experienced in Canada. Hence, most of the changes have made it more convenient for most immigrant to enter Canada. This, as a result, gives a great boost to the Canadian population crisis. In conclusion, the policies can be seen to be effective in addressing population-related issues in Canada.

References

Bacci, M. (2013). Low Fertility in Historical Perspective. Population And Development Review, 38, 72-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2013.00552.x

Beaujot, R., & Wang, J. (2010). Low Fertility in Canada: The Nordic Model in Quebec and the U.S. Model in Alberta. Canadian Studies In Population, 37(3-4), 411. doi: 10.25336/p64w4q

Beckers, C. (1962). Economic Survey of the Far East. Financial Analysts Journal, 18(4), 41-43. doi: 10.2469/faj.v18.n4.41

Cyr, F., Di Stefano, G., & Desjardins, B. (2013). Family Life, Parental Separation, and Child Custody in Canada: a Focus on Quebec. Family Court Review, 51(4), 522-541. doi: 10.1111/fcre.12050  

Davis, K., & Blake, J. (1956). Social Structure and Fertility: An Analytic Framework. Economic Development And Cultural Change, 4(3), 211-235. doi: 10.1086/449714 (Davis & Blake, 1956)

Henry, L. (1961). Some data on natural fertility. Eugenics Quarterly, 8(2), 81-91. doi: 10.1080/19485565.1961.9987465  

Henyey, L. (1938). The Theory of Cyclical Transitions. The Astrophysical Journal, 88, 133. doi: 10.1086/143966

Lesthaeghe, R., & Surkyn, J. (1988). Cultural Dynamics and Economic Theories of Fertility Change. Population And Development Review, 14(1), 1. doi: 10.2307/1972499

Newton, K. (1971). A Countercyclical Training Programme for Canada. Relations Industrielles, 26(4), 865. doi: 10.7202/028269ar

Preston, S., & Berelson, B. (1975). Population Policy in Developed Countries. Demography, 12(4), 671. doi: 10.2307/2060724

Mason, K. (1997). Explaining Fertility Transitions. Demography, 34(4), 443. doi: 10.2307/3038299

SULLIVAN, M. (1996). ROZZIE AND HARRIET?. Gender & Society, 10(6), 747-767. doi: 10.1177/089124396010006005

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