Timothy J. Hatton and Richard M. Martin Thesis

Pages: 5 (1561 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage

Timothy J. Hatton and Richard M. Martin's Fertility Decline and the Heights of Children in Britain, 1886-1938

Hatton and Martin (2009) use an exceptional survey conducted in 1930 to assess the relationship between fertility rates and the health of children in Great Britain. They reveal that the lower fertility rates have a direct impact on the health of children as follows -- lower fertility rates improve the health of children, whereas higher fertility rates reduce the health of children. The variables used to explain these outcomes are those of nutrition and diseases, both influenced by the size of the household and the income generated by the family.

Extrapolating these findings to the period between 1886 and 1938, Hatton and Martin conclude that the general health of the children in Britain has improved as a direct result of the increase in the wages of a family, corroborated with a decrease in the size of the family. They also state that fertility rates are an uncharted territory in the analysis of health evolution.

2. Literature Review

John Bongaarts (2003) conducted a study on 57 emergent states and concluded that, as the country progressed from the state of an under-developed economy to a developed economy, the rates of fertility declined. Additionally, as the populations gained increased access to education, fertility also declined. Countries which developed economically but maintained high fertility rates were underdeveloped from an educational standpoint.

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A 2003 study conducted by Tom Moultrie and Ian Timaeus reached a similar conclusion for the countries in Africa. Fertility rates had been dropping gradually since the 1960s. Yet, what is interesting in this article is the fact that political pressures and instability also played a part in the reduction of the fertility rates. Throughout the 1970s decade, the national authorities had implemented a family planning program, due to which the declining rates of fertility maintained their trend.

Thesis on Timothy J. Hatton and Richard M. Martin's Assignment

Another relevant work for the field is edited by Bollen, Glanville and Stecklov (2001) and focuses on the impact of the socio-economic climate on the fertility rates and the health of children in developing countries; they assess elements such as education, income or social status. Interestingly enough however, the three authors argue that "whether these specific parts mediate all of class's impact on other outcomes such as health and fertility in unknown" (Bollen, Glanville and Stecklov).

The final work to be hereby presented is Caldwell and Schindlmayr's article (2003), in which it is argued that fertility decline is a global trend. Yet, what the two authors argue is that the decline cannot be offered a universal explanation, but that each country has its individual reasons as well as characteristics.

The general conclusion is that fertility rates have been gradually decreasing throughout the entire globe. However, as it can be observed from the analysis of the specialized literature, most authors focus on the relationship between fertility and a various other elements, such as education, income or national state of economic development. Hatton and Martin's work is innovative as it takes a new stand to the matter of fertility, that of its impact, rather than its causes. Additionally, unlike other predecessors, they manage to establish a relationship between fertility and health.

3. Critical Analysis

As previously mentioned, Fertility Decline and the Heights of Children in Britain, 1886-1938 makes a significant contribution to the literature by focusing on the impacts of fertility on the health of children, in a context in which most of the literary sources focus on the causes of declining fertility rates, rather than their outcome. While previous attempts had in fact been made in answering questions related to the relationship between fertility decline and health of the individuals, the final findings were generally inconclusive due to lack of sufficient information.

In order to reduce this limitation, Hutton and Martin set their research premise in a survey taken in 1930, in which the living conditions and other life features of the working families were assessed. The benefits of this decision refer to the addition of a new source of information, which is highly useful in retrieving a relevant conclusion. Nevertheless, this approach also points out to a major limitation -- the fact that the article is mostly based on a single survey means that the results, however seemingly reliable, may be influenced by the source used. In other words, the unique 1930 survey could have determined the two authors to integrate the biased opinions of the previous researchers. This basically translates into a reduced objectiveness and reliability of the ultimate findings relating fertility rates and overall health status.

Additionally, another limitation is pegged to the sample selected for analysis. In this order of ideas, Hutton and Martin look at the evolution of household income, fertility rates and heath within Great Britain, and within a limited period of time (1886-1938). This leads to two shortcomings. On the one hand, the data on which the two authors rely is outdated and it could very well be that the situation today has changed; this could mean that the income per household is different, the fertility rates are different, the incidence of severe illnesses in children has changed due to forces which are not pegged to education and income, such as cancers, and so on. All these possible changes of the past century could easily imply that the results retrieved by the two authors are no longer applicable in today's context.

On the other hand, it must also be noted that the research population is located in Great Britain. And as Caldwell and Schindlmayr have shown, each country reveals different reasons and outcomes of the declining fertility rates. Consequently then, it can safely be argued that the results of Hytton and Martin cannot be extrapolated and applied at a global level.

Another questionable element in Fertility Decline…is given by the fact that the authors, based on the findings of previous researchers, regard the height of an individual as an indicator of health. The general perception was that taller people stand reduced chances of getting sick than people of a lower height. Nevertheless, recent studies have shown that these findings are biased and not relevant, as they do not consider numerous elements of importance, such as the age of the subjects or their education levels. Consider also the fact that the modern day individuals are generally 10 cm (approximately 4 inches) taller than the people that lived in the nineteenth century and before. Nevertheless, the incidence of coronary diseases has drastically increased.

Finally, new studies have even shown that people of a reduced height are in fact better protected against diseases than are taller individuals (Samaras and Elrick, 2002). All these arguments can easily be used to state the lack of relevance of Hutton and Martin's findings linking health to height and then to income and fertility rates.

A final critique to be brought to Fertility Decline…is given by the style in which it was written and constructed. It has to be mentioned that the structure is generically well established, enhancing easiness of reading and the follow-through of ideas; it however poses a distinctive limitation as the 10 tables, the appendix and the 3 figures to which it makes reference are not shown in text, but at the end of the article, following even the References section. This means that the reader finds himself in the situation where it is difficult to integrate the text information with the numerical correspondence, which could make the ideas presented easier to understand.

A major limitation is given by the style in which the article was written. This constitutes of a combination of common and specialty language, raising as such several difficulties for the novice populations' studies specialist. While at first he is able to understand the ideas, the models and the computations introduced are not well… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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