Competition Tightness Underlies the Effect of Population Density on Fertility: A Life History Theory Approach

Young-Jae Cha , Seoul National University
Woorim Ko, Seoul National University
Yejin Lim, Seoul National University
Jaekyung Jang, Chung-Ang University
Youngtae Cho, Seoul National University
Dayk Jang, Seoul National University

This paper attempts to suggest an evolutionary psychological approach to understand low fertility. Based on life history theory, we propose that fertility may decline as a function of population density. Previous findings revealed dense thus socially competitive environments exhibited lower fertility, later marriage age, and greater investment in education across countries and across the U.S. states. On top of previous findings, we propose that tightness of competition may aggravate the intensity of social competition, leading people in a dense environment delay reproductive timing and lower fertility. Using two indices of the tightness of competition (standard deviations of social values and tertiary school enrollment rate of countries), we test whether tightness of competition statistically mediates the relationship between population density and fertility at the level of over 200 countries. Moreover, we will see whether the model can explain the phenomenon of continued TFR below 1.3 across countries in Europe and Asia.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 3. Population, Development, & the Environment; Data & Methods; Applied Demography