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Seminar Series: Jenny Trinitopoli, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Religious Studies, and Demography, Pennsylvania State University

A Moveable Feast?: The Flexibility of Fertility Preferences in a Transitioning Malawian Community
When Jan 27, 2014
from 12:30 PM to 01:30 PM
Where 0124B Cole Student Activities Building
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
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About the Talk

Recent studies suggest a rapid change in fertility preferences among young adults across sub-Saharan Africa. In this study, we examine the sensitivity of Malawians’ fertility preferences to a variety of hypothetical (but common) events that may alter fertility preferences and intentions. We use the Theory of Conjunctural Action (TCA) to motivate this exploration of flexibility schemas as a set of meaningful and measurable approaches to fertility. Using new data from the Tsogolo la Thanzi (TLT) study in southern Malawi, we analyze expected changes in desired number of children (quantum) and the pace of childbearing (tempo) in response to this variety of events. We find that both the quantum and tempo dimensions of fertility preferences are most responsive to AIDS-related conditions and that four measurable and distinct flexibility schemas moderate the association between perceived risk of HIV and fertility behavior. Our results indicate that the generalized AIDS epidemic in Malawi is critically important for understanding young people’s fertility preferences and, ultimately, how these are manifest into their childbearing behavior.

About the Speaker

Jenny Trinitopoli

Jenny Trinitapoli is Assistant Professor of Sociology, Religious Studies, and Demography at Penn State University. She earned her PhD (2007) from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was also an active member of the Population Research Center. Her research on the interplay between religious and demographic processes and outcomes tends to focus on the context of sub-Saharan Africa. Jenny’s research on religion has appeared in Journal for the Scientific Study of ReligionAmerican Sociological ReviewSocial Forces, and Demographic Research, among other outlets.  Her book Religion and AIDS in Africa (with Alexander Weinreb) has been called “the first comprehensive empirical account of the impact of religion on the AIDS epidemic.”

Visit Professor Trinitapoli's webpage

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