This is an application to investigate the influence of ideational factors on family life. In recent years scholars have identified many beliefs and values to be important influences on marriage and reproductive behavior, and these ideational factors have become important elements in theories of family and demographic change. The proposed project will investigate the interrelated influence of these ideational factors on both nuptiality and fertility. We will also examine how these ideational factors intersect with a wide range of socioeconomic structural factors in influencing marriage, contraceptive use, and childbearing. This research will be conducted in Nepal, which provides a particularly useful setting for studying ideational influences on nuptiality and fertility. Our research concerning the influence of ideational factors on family and demographic behavior has five specific aims. First, we will examine how ideational factors influence marriage behavior, focusing primarily on the transition into first marital union. Second, we will investigate how ideational factors intersect with socioeconomic structures to influence entrance into marriage. Third, we will study how ideational factors influence fertility, considering both childbearing and the use of contraception. Fourth, we will examine the ways in which ideational, social, and economic structures intersect and combine to influence contraception and childbearing. Fifth, we will examine how these ideational influences vary by both gender and age and will examine husband-wife dynamics in fertility decisions. We will achieve these goals by modifying and expanding the Chitwan Valley Family Study (CVFS), which already contains extensive information concerning socioeconomic factors measured at the individual, family, and community levels. We will begin by collecting new socioeconomic information and an extensive set of ideational measures and update these ideational measures every six months. We will also collect data about family and demographic events for all months subsequent to the year one interview. We will then use our measures of ideational and structural factors to predict subsequent marriage, contraception, and childbearing. With the pre-existing panel data, a wave of new measures of beliefs and values, regular updates of changes in those beliefs and values, and monthly information about marriage and childbearing, we will investigate the ways in which various dimensions of values and beliefs influence subsequent marriage and childbearing behaviors. We will also study how these ideational factors combine with socioeconomic structures in affecting marriage and childbearing. We will investigate this ideational-structural model using the most advanced analytic techniques available. This study will, thus, produce many new insights into marriage and childbearing behaviors and the forces influencing them.
Timing of marriage, timing of childbearing, contraceptive use and total family size are all known to have wide ranging consequences for the health and well being of families and children. Theories claim that change and variation in ideas are closely associated with change and variation in these key dimensions of family formation processes, but there is little empirical evidence to verify these theories or to say which ideas matter. We propose new research to create the empirical data needed to test these theories and to provide the key tests needed to understand the influence of ideas on family formation processes.